Did you ever see the movie The Natural starring Robert Redford? It’s an account of a baseball player’s life and his attempts to get it right, on and off the field. He’s derailed along the way, by his own hand of course but symbolized in the movie as an evil woman that almost kills him. Life is like that, it almost kills us sometimes but if we can survive it truly doesgive us greater character.
My father shares my love of the movie and the story line. He sent me a brilliant article from the Washington Post writer Charles Krauthammer who wrote a poignant piece on real life St. Louis Cardinal Rick Ankiel.

Ankiel has claimed his own place in the annals of history of redemption and resurrection. I find great happiness not only in his story but in the reaction of the fans to him and what he has done. It brings chills to my body and tears to my eyes.

Read the full Charles Krauthammer story titled Return of the Natural here.

Well done Mate!

To be known as an Amateur

I struggle with the word professional.

It always comes off to me as superior – and so I have a hard time applying the moniker to myself, despite the fact that 22 years as a working stiff probably qualifies me for the common use of the title in my areas of expertise. Speaking of words that I have some dislike for, there’s another: expertise. I dislike expertise for similar reasons since it implies an end-state and I believe we’re all just at varying stages of acquiring knowledge and wisdom. Who would ever want to stop learning? To me that would imply death.

For these reasons the true meaning of Amateur is most profound for me. I often coach myself to strive for a “Rookie’s verve” in things I do. When I get things right in life I can attribute them to acting as an amateur would. No amount of books, knowledge or schooling seem to make up for what this kind of attitude can have in life. I’m certainly delighted to be an amateur running my first marathon since it captures the spirit of the whole thing…quite so. In business too I would much rather act in the spirit of an amateur. Having started my own business a little over a year ago I feel I’m a step closer to that.

In doing some research for my run I have been watching a bit of Chariots of Fire. The movie has always ranked as one of my favorites and that was true long before I was a runner. As soon as I can figure out the intricacies of video encoding I’ll put up my favorite clip from the movie which shows Scot Eric Liddell winning the 400 meter race.

In the mean time I came across an academic from BYU by the name of John S. Tanner who writes about amateurism beautifully (he ties in Chariots of Fire which is how I happened across his piece). Here are some excerpts but I strongly encourage you to read the whole piece.

“Following my appointment as academic vice president, I received many kind notes from faculty colleagues. As the congratulations came in, I thought of sobering remarks by Hugh Nibley:

Anyone can become a dean, a professor, a department head, a chancellor, or a custodian by appointment—it has happened thousands of times; but since the world began, no one has ever become an artist, a scientist, or a scholar by appointment. The professional may be a dud, but to get any recognition, the amateur has to be good. [“The Day of the Amateur,” Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, ed. Don E. Norton and Shirley S. Ricks (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book; Provo: FARMS, 1994), p. 303]”

and this

“The word amateur derives from the Latin for “love.” An amateur is at root a lover—a lover of sport, science, art, and so forth. It is this sense of amateur that I believe we must preserve if we are to achieve a more excellent way. There is much to recommend the professional ethic, including rigor, methodology, high standards of review, and so forth. Yet I hope we never cease to be amateurs in our professions—that is, passionate devotees of our disciplines.”

and this from Dr. Tanner on Chariots of Fire

“The film Chariots of Fire is organized around the contrast between the professional and the amateur. The movie tells the true story of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell—both gifted sprinters and both, eventually, gold medalists in the 1924 Olympics. Abrahams exemplifies the spirit of the professional: he is driven, highly coached, obsessed with winning and personal glory. Liddell, by contrast, embodies the spirit of the amateur: he is joyous, heartfelt, animated by the love of running and the glory of God. Abrahams runs on his nerves; when asked why he runs, he says winning is a weapon against pervasive anti-Semitism. Liddell runs from his heart; he says he runs for God.”

Which brings me to my favorite scene from Chariots, which includes a host of poignant moments including the one where American competitor Jackson Schultz, who understands Liddell’s intent and motivation, hands him a hand written note that includes a quote from the bible:

“Mr. Liddell, it says in the old book
“He that honors me
I will honor”
Good Luck –
Jackson Schultz”

Image from Chariots of Fire “He That Honors Me”

To read more about Liddell and a bit about Schultz read this great account from Helen Thomson.

I rather enjoyed Dr. Tanner’s description of my favorite scene from the movie where Liddell narrates to his sister about his reasons for running and his calling to evangelize in China (which he went on to do) as he runs the 400.

“We see this contrast in their respective running styles. Abrahams’ running is technically sophisticated and fierce; he scowls his way across the finish line. By contrast, Liddell runs like a wild animal across the hillsides. At a certain point in each race, Liddell leans back his head, opens his mouth, and turns on the jets—abandoning himself to the pure expression of his divine gift. This accurate portrayal of Liddell’s running style symbolizes that his running is inspired. Inspire literally means “breathed into” by God. Liddell’s inspired passion for his sport is captured by a famous line from the movie spoken to his sister Jenny, who is worried that he is forgetting his higher commitment to God and to an eventual mission to China:

“I believe that God made me for a purpose. For China. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt. You were right. It’s not just fun. To win is to honor Him.”

and this from the previously cited Helen Thomson on Liddell’s life after his gold medal:

“Liddell retired from international athletics immediately afterwards on the grounds that he had now won the Olympics. Four years later he recorded a time far quicker than that of his successor as champion at a small meeting in Asia two weeks after the Games.”

I can think of no moniker that I’d aspire to more than amateur. How about you?

My favorite quote of all time

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt
“Citizenship in a Republic”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

A day of infamy

Pearl Harbor

From MediaPost

“A GOVERNMENT-CENSORED STORY ON PEARL Harbor has finally seen the light of day.

Last week, The New York Times posted digital versions of articles written in 1942 to commemorate the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into World War II. The 15,000-word series, written in 1942 by Times reporter Robert Trumbull, detailed the Herculean project to salvage four battleships sunk by Japanese bombs and torpedoes.”

Not only is this a fascinating media story but it also is a great look back into some remarkable history. Here’s the article from The Times so you can read it yourself.

Bill Gates, all joking aside, I’ll miss ya

It’s not everyday that you wake up to news that Bill Gates is planning to retire in two years. The world of Bill and Microsoft, the popular subject of barbed and derisive comments for so long, is about to change forever. No matter if you hate Microsoft or not – you have to acknowledge the singular impact Bill and to a lesser extent his partner, Paul Allen, had on our world.  I don’t. If you have anything to do with computers, or any passion for computer hardware and software, then you have Bill Gates to thank for making this world what it is. Even if you’re not into computers you have Bill to thank for myriad changes that Microsoft brought to our world.  Over time, as Bill goes on to potentially become one of the greatest philanthropists of all time, the world will judge him as a visionary, even if that visionary appeared in geeks clothing, funny glasses and a none too manly voice. Thanks Bill.

Here’s a link to a video on CNET of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer announcing Bill’s retirement in 2008.

O.J. Gude and me

Our LegacyFirst Electric Outdoor Advertisement O.J. Gude Co NYC 1892

Seen through the lens of advertising and technology the birth of EXCELER8 has come about as a result of some interesting twists and turns.
As far as this story goes its beginnings lie in a tradition very familiar to our young nation. A young man, a tailor by trade, makes his way to our shores from a far away place and settles in the new world. This young man is from Hanover Germany and he comes as many do to the shores of New York. Here he marries a young woman who gives him a fine family of sons and daughters, one of which they give the name Oscar. Still a boy, Oscar looses his father and continues life with his mother, brothers and sisters. He becomes a man and goes out on his own in search of his dreams. He pours his sweat and ingenuity into many things but the first proposition to take hold is with distributing circulars in New York City for a washing powder.

The year is now 1878 and the place is Brooklyn, New York. My Great, Great Grandfather O.J. Gude, starts an outdoor advertising company with $100 in capital. The O.J. Gude Company goes on to pioneer the first use of the electric bulb in a billboard sign in May, 1892 just thirteen years after Thomas Edison invents the first light bulb. The sign hangs on the side of the Cumberland Hotel where Twenty-Third, Broadway and 5th Avenue cross paths. The sign was 50 by 80 feet and used 1,457 lights that flashed its story MANHATTAN BEACH – SWEPT BY OCEAN BREEZES.

A great marketer, H. J. Heinz, is staying in a hotel across the street and notices the sign. He knows immediately that he has to use the new sign technology for his company. He contacts O.J. the next day and soon an electric sign with a huge green Heinz pickle dominates the same spot. O.J.’s business is off and running. Later the hotel would yield way to the Flatiron building where many more O.J. Gude installations would appear.

O.J. Gude Heinz Sign

But Times Square is where O.J. really makes his name. O.J. Gude becomes known as the ‘"Sign King of Times Square" and the "Napoleon of Publicity" and his electric "Spectaculars," the name still used today for the mammoth signs on Times Square, quickly became prolific and so associated with the bright light that bathes Broadway that O.J. is credited with coining the term and helping to create the ‘The Great White Way.’

Times Square O.J. Gude Co. Signs

By 1919 O.J. Gude’s name adorns over 10,000 billboards across the U.S. but he is remembered most for his early work with electric advertising signs. One of his most famous signs was the Wrigley’s gum spectacular placed on Broadway. "In 1917, when Gude put up a two-hundred-foot-long spectacular, on the west side of Broadway between Forty-third and Forty-fourth, featuring twelve gleaming “spearmen” who went through spasmodic calisthenics, it was as big an event in American pop culture, in its way, as the opening of “The Jazz Singer,” ten years later," according to an article in The New Yorker.

"Gude was the Botticelli of Broadway." according to an article in Newsday. "In 1917, he created what many consider his masterpiece: a Wrigley’s Spearmint gum sign eight stories high and 200 feet long. Using 17,500 lights, Gude summoned a curlicued fantasy kingdom of peacocks and fountains sure to make onlookers think "Wrigley’s" whenever they hankered for a good chew."

A more modern version of the famed Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum sign.O.J. Gude Company Wrigley's Sign

O.J.’s dominance in the outdoor advertising space and use of cutting edge technology with proven advertising methods he perfected with his many regular billboards made him a classic rags to riches millionaire by the turn of the century.

O.J. made his mark in a time of great change, where modern technological advances were having life changing impacts on people and societies the world round. Advertising, then as now, was one place where we got to see that technology pushed to its limits for the purpose of reaching people, and connecting them with advertiser brands and messages. We’re still at it: pushing technology in the pursuit of ever more effective advertisements. I am reminded in no small way of the current interactive rich media ads I deal in when I read a quote from O.J. talking about his spectaculars, "O.J. Gude declared that outdoor advertisers "forced their announcements on the vision of the uninterested as well as the interested passerby." The ads O.J. made famous drew critiques back in their time just as current online ads do today. While some called the huge signs ‘garish’ many others remember them fondly for their awesome display and entertainment value and for the American ingenuity that they symbolized. I wonder if O.J. realized that almost 100 years would transpire before a descendent of his became involved in the advertising industry again?

My ADventure so far
Zoom forward to the 1970’s and a father and mother sit in their kitchen and dream of an adventure to see the world with their two boys, Lorenz Jr. and his younger brother Julian. Father regularly scans the New York Times employment display ads for overseas jobs and imagines himself continuing his university teaching at colleges in England and Australia. A new life begins when a college teaching job is found a world away in Perth, Australia and soon young Julian and his family stand in an Australian immigration office in New York City where Julian is asked what he thinks about seeing Kangaroo’s.

Julian hangs out at his Dad’s college in Australia where his father teaches media studies, photography and computing. Julian discovers the computer lab and falls in love when he realizes he can send anonymous instant messages (though they’re not called that back then) via mainframe computer to unsuspecting student’s computers in the middle of their studies, “This is God, You’ll surely flunk out.”

“A couple years abroad” turns in to ten years and Julian returns home to the U.S. by himself at 16, bidding his family a fond farewell. They wonder what a 16 year old is going to do taking care of the family farm by himself but he uses his skills of persuasion and focus to make his dream come true. Julian knows he’ll be just fine. Julian now lives in the northeast and within a 100 miles of his nearest relative, a kind and loving Aunt who is as sharp as a tack and head of a computing department that runs entirely on computer cards. “How can one make a lot of money?” he asks his Aunt and she says ‘Sales.’ Julian sells stuff. Julian sells computers, he loves technology, he understands computers. Soon Julian and a Saab full of belongings are hurtling down Interstate 10 across the nation to the promised land: Silicon Valley. No money, no specific job prospects but a big dream like so many of us have.

Julian didn’t know it as he arrived in Silicon Valley in the Fall of 1988 with dreams of working in the technology sector but he’s be on a very different path from what he envisioned only a week later. He scours the display ads as his Father once had and searches for jobs working at his dream tech companies and in the end happens upon an intriguing ad in the San Jose Mercury News for a position selling local Yellow Pages advertisements. Another one of those want ads. He never even makes it to another interview. That first advertisement makes an ad man out of him and he becomes GTE Directories’ youngest outside sales rep in the U.S. Julian is 19 and has his first company car and a new techie device that he loves called a mobile phone. It takes up a large portion of his car’s floor. The ads and the phone and the money make him forget about working for a technology company for a while. He goes to work for Pacific Bell selling their Yellow Pages, he get a lot of promotions, he manages, he trains, he strategizes, he works on a mega merger, he markets, he buys a house and starts a family, buys another house and still he can’t get technology out of his head.

The 90’s tick by amazing things are suddenly happening all around him. Julian thinks of the computer with the pulse dialing rubber phone coupler from his Dad’s college in Australia that he used to dial-in to the College mainframe with. He thinks of the first bulletin board he accesses via IBM PC clone from the family farm back east. He dials-up now to a menu based bbs like system called America Online. The number of users on their welcome page keeps growing so fast he can’t believe it. He notices on America Online that his local newspaper where he found his first big job has something on AOL called MercuryCenter. It turns out to be the very first online newspaper. He watches and wonders how an ad man can make the leap back in to technology without giving up all that he’s learned.

One day his boss select him to work on a hush-hush project that he knows Julian will just love. The boss is right. It’s about making directories online and getting their huge sales force ready to sell ads on them. Pacific Bell @Hand and later It’s about bringing together buyers and sellers using advertising and technology. Everything goes in to a blur and all you read about is IPO’s and secretaries retiring. He hesitates too long to earn O.J.’s millions. He thinks of his kids and the mortgage and ponders if he should do a startup or something in between. The decision is made for him when a call comes from a former boss who now works for the company that started MercuryCenter. They’re called Knight Ridder and have newspapers and news web sites scattered all over the country.

Julian joins them just before they make a new separate company called Julian gets his first glimpse in to the power of print and online classified advertising in the real estate, automotive and recruitment space. Before this he didn’t realize that the papers and their online properties make most of their money this way – but it makes more sense when he thinks back on how profound an impact those job ads have had on his life. Although Julian goes to Knight Ridder to help with the online advertising nuts and bolts he ends up starting the first national network sales team instead and has reps all over the country. He works with national Ad Agencies and Fortune 500 businesses. He’s exposed to the Internet version of Madison Avenue and thinks about how this same town was a crowing achievement for his Great Great Grandfather. These Madison Avenue types need to understand how Internet advertising works like everyone else. He has some answers. He works with the Sales VP to build a sales force, operations and processes to get the local and national sales network running.

The boss has Julian focus on a major problem area and shifts his focus there completely. It’s about sales and ads, graphic design and some technology stuff that he thinks Julian will understand. It’s online ad serving and nothing really works the way it’s supposed to. He deals with sales people, ISP’s, servers, clients, tech vendors, newspaper publishers, site leaders, editorial staff, Internet elitists, national advertisers with millions in the budget and local advertisers with hundred in the budget and some not so happy site users along the way. Some of them have the opinion that Julian’s ads are as annoying as those garish billboards in Times Square. A lot of people still don’t understand what people like Julian do, even people in the industry but Julian knows it’s just about bringing buyers and sellers together, people and brands, people and jobs, people and cars, people with their new homes. It all works better now because we’re combining advertising with high technology.

Julian opens a new chapter in his life when he bumps into a girl who is a colleague that works at Knight Ridder in Miami. She’s a rising star who’s made her own way in the Internet. She’s never been a newspaper reader or used the Yellow Pages like Julian. She was a net girl from college on and it’s just how she thinks. Newspaper companies understand that she gets it and and have hired her to help them get it. They meet over business in Phoenix but feel they’ve known each other since the Phoenix has been rising from the ashes. They make a family. They move to Florida where she’s from. He does his same job that he had in San Jose from Miami now. They love it but Julian misses his oldest boys back in the Bay Area and sometimes even the Valley with all the things that go whir in the night. There’s a connection between these places in time, space and the Internet and even with his history back in Times Square and Madison Avenue.

NowJulian E. Gude
Now it’s the Fall of 2005 and I think about how it’s been twenty years and four kids since my smart Aunt told me about how I could make money in sales. I think about O.J. and how I want to have the family business he never really got to have despite all his money. None of his money is here anymore, my Grandfather spent the last of his Father’s share to help buy that family farm I took care of once and it’s gone now too. I know I’m lucky because the money’s gone and not the other way around. It wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t earn it on my own. I live in America and I have the same opportunity that O.J. once had.

For all his business success O.J. seems to have failed with his family. He didn’t succeed in teaching them the value of money, of common sense and ingenuity and hard work that he used to make himself a success. His kids were classic first generation silver spoons that kept their hands out for daddy’s money. They burned through O.J.’s money tout d’suite and since none of it lasted my Grandfather led a normal man’s life with an occasional perk thrown in to his early childhood. My father just worked his ass off on the farm and vowed to use his brain to change all that. And he did that and went on to conquer New York in his own way.

O.J. would understand my motivation. I’m not sure if I’m the entrepreneur that he was but I understand some things about this Information age and how today’s companies work and what they need. And I have some answers and a whole lot of passion and I want something that my kids can do with me if they want to someday. I’m not in it for the money. I found out on my own that making a lot of money without having any time to spend with those you’re working for is a bankrupt way of life. We’ll find the balance by working together and working smarter. And my wife is an entrepreneur as her mother is and she has no fear for our future. We’re going t be one hell of a team. And my Dad is here to help out as well. He’s a history buff who has always helped connect the past with the present as a way to better understand the world and act intelligently. He’s studied and taught media and computing and has a bards tongue and an educator’s verve for helping people learn. He’s also got that technology bug like my wife and I do.

It’s all coming together in a moment of clarity. We see a formula where the right people with a singular focus can leverage that focus and their expertise to create exponential results. Julian E. GudeWe think it will speed things up in a world where the most valuable asset we have is time. It can shorten the distance between two points like the Internet makes the world a smaller place. We call it EXCELER8ION even though Dad isn’t so sure about the name he still believes in the cause. I’m just so thankful to have been involved in the infancy of Internet advertising because it is the ultimate marriage of my passion for advertising and lifelong love of technology.

Just like my Great Great Grandfather, O.J. Gude I’ve had a front row seat to some stuff that my Great Great Grand kids will read about and marvel upon. For a long time I’ve helped a lot of big companies make their mark and now it’s time for my family and I to work for ourselves and make our mark upon this place. Perhaps we’ll even be fortunate enough to work with people like you who might care to join us on our ADventure.

With warmest regards,


First picture of Baby X!

October 29, 2003

Yesterday on Tuesday afternoon Shannon and I went to see our newest addition – Baby X. Baby X is about 13 weeks old and should show up in our world about May 5th, 2004 according to Dr. Biell. Everything with Baby is normal and he/she was quite active during the ultrasound. The debate has begun on if we are going to find out the sex. Neither of us know what we want to do yet. 🙂

Baby X Baby X!

Posted by jsg at 06:57 PM

Our Wedding Vows

September 27, 2003

The Royalton
The Royalton Hotel at 44 West 44th Street in New York City


“Julian, you are your own person. I do not have the right to bind you to your bride. Only you have this right. If it is your wish, then take this ring; put it in Shannon’s hand and say, “It is my wish”.

“Shannon, you are your own person. I do not have the right to bind you to your groom. Only you have this right. If it is your wish, then take this ring; put it in Julian’s hand and say, “It is my wish”.

I, Julian Edward Gude take you Shannon Marie Seery, to be my wife, my partner in life and my one true love.
I will cherish you and love you today, tomorrow, and forever.
I will trust you and honor you.
I will laugh with you and cry with you.
I will love you faithfully.
What may come I will always be there.
As I have given you my hand to hold.
So I give you my life to keep.
For life is short but sweet for certain,
so shall we live each moment as it were our last together.
For where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.
And where you die, I will die and there I will be buried.
And when we are but ashes may our love rise up like a Phoenix and fly away together.
For not even death can part you from me.

Then you will place the ring on Shannon’s finger.

I, Shannon Marie Seery take you Julian Edward Gude, to be my husband, my partner in life and my one true love.
I will cherish you and love you today, tomorrow, and forever.
I will trust you and honor you.
I will laugh with you and cry with you.
I will love you faithfully.
What may come I will always be there.
As I have given you my hand to hold.
So I give you my life to keep.
For life is short but sweet for certain,
so shall we live each moment as it were our last together.
For where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.
And where you die, I will die and there I will be buried.
And when we are but ashes may our love rise up like a Phoenix and fly away together.
For not even death can part you from me.

Then you will place the ring on Julian’s finger.

As we light the candles, Rev Laura will read:
“Infinity” to your relationship means that your love is connected through time. This journey that you are embarking on today began on an earlier day and will not end in this lifetime. You dream that you will discover each other again and again in this life time and in lives to come.

The Royalton Hotel at 44 West 44th Street in New York City
Posted by jsg at 08:13 PM