Tag Archives: blogs

Migrant Mother – Glorious Failure


In the Grapevine Public Library, there is a poster displaying one of the most iconic images from the Great Depression; Migrant Mother. I have seen this photograph for years and have always been struck by the woman in the picture; both strong and vulnerable, defeated and determined, plain and beautiful. The image was shot in a pea picker camp in 1936 after the timing belt in their car had snapped and her husband and sons were away having repairs done in town. Six photographs were taken of Florence Owens Thompson and her children by Dorothea Lange, working for the Resettlement Administration. In 1998, the iconic image was turned into a 32 cent postage stamp, which is a bit poetic in the fact that Florence was only 32 years old at the time. Only a few years out of her 20s and yet she looked so much older.

Great Depression Viola

A second picture in this series moved me so much, that I based a post on it called, It wasn’t supposed to be like this…. In the foreground is 14 year old Viola, looking as if her disappointment in life was more than she could bear. At 14, we all long for more than is reasonable, but in Viola’s case, life was indeed worse than she could have expected. Add that to the ennui resident in the soul of the normal 14 year old and you can see this girl, longing for beauty, romance and “happily ever after”, is sure that life is over before the exciting part got started.

The happy news is that they did make it. I found an image of Florence and her three daughters in 1979, 43 years after the photograph was taken.

Florence Thompson and daughters

I do not know the details of all the people in the original photograph. What was the story of Viola’s life, after she moved on from this iconic image? I have not found the story. What I do know, is that they were ashamed. They were dirt poor, selling the tires off their car to buy food, when this photographer arrived to take their pictures. They never wanted to be identified as “that family” the poor Okies in the image that nearly everyone in North America has seen.

It was not until Florence was very ill, and unable to pay her hospital bills, that the family eventually came to understand the importance of that image. The request went out for donations and they received $25,000 to pay for the expenses. After Florence died, the surviving son (the baby in the famous photograph) received 2,000 letters which showed him that this image, a curse on his family for his whole life, was much greater than his shame. It was a source of inspiration and encouragement to people he would never meet.

Share  your experiences as a job seeker. I have never been so surprised as I was when a talented, intelligent job seeker I barely knew, thanked me, in front of a small group of other job seekers, for my blog. She said that my posts let her know that she was not alone. Others were facing her same struggle and they were doing it with humor and honesty. I’ve been thanked by others since that time.

I have written about my grandfather, Choctaw Bowman, who went on to achieve modest success after a hard start in life. However, it is my other grandfather, Bill Snider, who never achieved success, who inspires me. I hope to publish his story some day, but suffice it to say, he was knocked down time and time again, only to beat out a modest living and die happy.

I was laid off well after the prime of my life. I had no dreams of rising back to my former glory and traveling the world in business class, staying in four star hotels and eating steak dinners on a corporate expense account.I had to face the harsh realities that life was not going to end as well as it had started.

That is what I chose to write about.

We can not all succeed but we will all fail. Share your experiences as you forge a path forward. Blog your experiences and you just might find that you are being thanked by someone younger, more talented and intelligent than you are, because you share a common experience with honesty, humor and hope.

Good Luck and Godspeed,

James Snider
Engstrom Trading, LLC
VP Business Development

Learn about TFX:


Phone call from Andreas

When I first moved from software engineering into semiconductor marketing, I was given the assignment of promoting a new technology (FireWire). This technology had been slow to take off and management was running low on patience. For a couple of years, they had been told that success was imminent. Soon we would start giving them some return on their considerable investment. With a small marketing team assigned to make this happen, we had to be careful how we spent our time. The rule of thumb was that we should never talk to anyone who did not have the potential of placing a 100,000 unit order. There were plenty of small start-ups that wanted to develop FireWire enabled products, but we simply lacked the resources to deal with all of them. Besides, it took exactly the same amount of time to send samples to Sony or Dell as it did to send samples to Bob who is developing a new product on his kitchen table. Chances were good that Sony or Dell would eventually order 100,000 units. Chances were equally good that Bob would never amount to anything.

It was with this mindset that I answered my first phone call from Andreas. He wanted samples and was willing to pay for them. However, he worked for a company I’d never heard of. I brushed him off. The next week, I received another phone call from Andreas. Same request. Same friendly, unassuming tone of voice. Same result. I brushed him off. This went on for months. I quit picking up the phone and let it go to voice mail. Every week, I heard the same friendly, humble request. “I would like just a few samples. I am willing to pay for them. Please call me back…”

One day at our staff meeting, one of the other marketers said, “Who is Andreas? I am getting a phone call from him every week asking for samples.” I responded, “Me too!” The other marketing guy responded that he also got weekly calls from Andreas. Somehow, Andreas had figured out who the three FireWire marketing guys were and made weekly phone calls to each of us. We all agreed that we admired his persistence and that he was always nice about his request, even though it had been going on for a few months with no results. One of us said, “We should just give him some samples. Don’t charge him…just give them to him. He has been so nice about it and he obviously wants them badly.” We all agreed and Andreas got his samples.

As it turns out, Andreas was the president of this small company we’d never heard of. He was developing a debugging tool to help people who were designing FireWire into their products. This was something we’d never even thought about. And, as it turns out, was vitally important to the success of the technology. If Andreas had never gotten his samples, the roll out of FireWire products would have been delayed again and my management would have pulled the plug on the whole project.

Andreas went on to become a major player in the FireWire industry and to build a successful company which he sold for a small fortune. Years later, I was in town on business and gave him a call to see if he wanted to get together for dinner. He was delighted and picked me up in his shiny red Viper. As we drove to dinner in his $65,000 car (this was a few years ago), I related to him the story of the staff meeting where we decided to send him the samples he’d requested so many times. Then I asked him, “How did you remain so nice after we ignored you for so long?” He responded, “I was nobody from a company you’d never heard of. I desperately needed your product to be successful. I had nothing to offer you and you had everything I needed. All I could do was to be nice and ask again.” The tone of his voice let me know that he was still that guy. Viper not withstanding. He was still that guy I heard on the other end of the phone so many years ago asking once again, nicely, if I would please sell him some samples.

Andreas did two things right. He was nice and he was persistent. When you come across that great job that you really want, you should persist. Check out the company Facebook page. Web pages give you business information (product lines, sales locations, press releases, documentation….) Facebook (if it is done right) will give you interesting information about the company (charities they support, corporate team building events, mentions in the major press, industry trends…)  which will make for a much more interesting interview.

Check out the company on LinkedIn. If the company is a small one, you will probably be able to figure out who just left the company, making the opening you are interviewing for. Do a “People” search, but enter the company name instead of a person’s name. This will show you who works for the company and who worked (past tense) there.  If you determine who your predecessor was, look them up on LinkedIn. Tell them you are interviewing for their old job and invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. Then set up a call. I have done this twice and found the people to be willing to talk and ready to share extremely useful information.

Once you actually have the interview,  mail a “thank you” note ASAP. Call a few days later. Invite the hiring manager to LinkIn with you. Even if they turn you down, stay nice and keep in touch. I heard somewhere that 30% of people who are hired, leave after 3 months. I am not sure if that is the case in the current economy but I have seen a number of people return to Southlake Focus after a few months because the job was just not right. Mail or email a note to the recruiter and the people with whom you interviewed a couple of  months after your interview. Let them know that  you are still interested in the company.

Follow them on Twitter and retweet them. Comment on their blog. There are so many things you can do to keep in touch. Be persistent and be nice.

Good luck and Godspeed.

 James Snider
Business Development Director
817 203 4944

Escape from Manhattan 9/11

I do not watch much TV so this may have been all over the place on the 9/11 anniversary. I only became aware of this when my 90 year old father emailed it to me last night.

On the day the Twin Towers collapsed, New Yorkers were trapped on lower Manhattan. A single call went out from the Coast Guard for assistance in evacuating nearly half a million people. That one call yielded “everything that could float.” This civilian flotilla of ferries, tug boats, yachts and other vessels came together at the World Trade Center site in the largest boatlift in history – greater than the one at Dunkirk during World War II.

People were plucked from the water, disabled people carried, fuel was shared freely and no one was left behind. In the words of the Captain of the Amberjack V (a charter yacht) who responded to the call, “I never want to say the word ‘I should have’.”

The Amberjack V was not the only hero of the day, but Anthony L of Brooklyn posted comments on Yelp! which are worth passing along.

I have no connection to the Amberjack V, but felt compelled to provide this link regarding the story about her (and her Captain’s) role as first responders on 9/11/01.


Godspeed Captain Vincent Ardolino.  Thank you for taking action in the face of uncertainty, confusion and chaos.

I was there on that terrible day, but didn’t escape by boat (I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge), but three very important women in my life were able to safely make it home thanks to the boatlift effort on 9/11.  I didn’t know for hours that they were OK, and watching this video brings goosebumps to my arms, learning that you were running to save us, while we were running for safety.

Thank you.

It was a day that was supposed to tear America apart, but instead brought Americans together. In the words of the President of the Center for National Policy Stephen Flynn, “Our national DNA is resilience.”

For the full story on the Reuters Blog:

Good luck and Godspeed.

 James Snider
Business Development Director
817 203 4944

Quoting Richard Nixon

“I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” — Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon is one of my favorite historical figures. Often vilified, people forget some of the accomplishments of his first term: opening relations with China, extricating the US from the Vietnam War, achieving détente with the Soviet Union…these were no minor events.

It was his second term for which he is remembered. That is when he became the first president in history to resign, facing the clear and present danger of impeachment.

Nixon was flawed by a dangerous ambition which tempted him to resort to dirty tricks to win election to public office. In an ironic twist, he won his second term by a landslide. His involvement in the Watergate break-in was totally unnecessary but ultimately ended his career and wrote him into the history books as a disgraced criminal. I can only speculate how history would have treated “Tricky Dicky” if he’d only been as paranoid as an average politician.

His story is that of a man, with feet of clay, who overcame fantastic odds to achieve one of the world’s greatest accomplishments. It is a fantastic tale of human triumph and tragedy with plenty of sobering lessons for all of us.

His life, lived in the spotlight, left us with plenty of notable quotes. The first one to come to everyone’s mind is, “I am not a crook.” Another commonly recalled quote is, “You won’t have Nixon to kick around any more.”

Lesson number one, watch what you say when the cameras are rolling. That is not the time to let your bitterness, anger or pettiness show. You are not likely to have network news recording you, but you do have exposure from social media. Watch what you say and how you say it. No one wants to hire an angry person with issues.

There are plenty of other quotes which give us a much better picture of the man. For example, the next quote had to be one learned the hard way.

“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.”

After narrowly losing the presidential election to Kennedy, Nixon went on to lose a gubernatorial race in California. Everyone counted the man out, however, he went on to win the presidency twice.

Considering his many years in politics (as member of the US House and Senate as well as vice president) you have to be amazed that he actually considered himself to be a Washington outsider.  He could express a cynical view of politics shared by the common man.

“Any change is resisted because bureaucrats have a vested interest in the chaos in which they exist.

At times he said things that were either shrewd beyond normal human capacity or dangerously pragmatic.

“Solutions are not the answer.”

Then there were the times when he was gracious in defeat. I believe he had “better angels of his nature” whereby he coped with defeat by turning his attention to the welfare of the American people.

“A public man must never forget that he loses his usefulness when he as an individual, rather than his policy, becomes the issue.

And finally, there were the poetic parting words to his staff as he left the White House upon his resignation. Too bad, he was not able to live up to them.

“Always remember that others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.”

But perhaps the Nixon who appeared in his later years, the “Elder Statesman” who gave advice to several presidents of each party, shows that he did live up to his advice, and ultimately did not destroy himself.

Be careful what you express in social media. Let us see your better side. Your wit and wisdom. And when you fall prey to your lesser nature, be encouraged. Google loves fresh content. The term “Nixonesque” expresses a tendency toward being paranoid, bitter and underhanded. However, in his final years, Nixon emerged as a fallen leader with wisdom to share and a certain generosity and humility which comes with the role. Let what you say today and in the future be positive. The weight of fresh content will cause your unfortunate social media blunders to drift deeper and deeper into the recesses of the Internet.

In the end, it is those who finish strong who are remembered well.

James Snider
Business Development Director
817 203 4944

What I Learned from House Painting

Photos from a Junkyard by the Artist Makena

From Junkyard: Photography, by Makena

I picked up a small painting job during my job search. It was only a few hundred dollars. I had not painted a room in many years and I seriously underbid the job. I do not think that anyone enjoys painting. It is messy and boring. It can be very tedious and I was starting to grumble a bit as I was getting close to finishing because it was taking so much longer than I’d anticipated.

Additionally, I was feeling a sense of strange defeat. When I was first married, I worked as a carpenter’s apprentice. That title glamorized the job a bit. I swept floors and carried lumber for 8 hours a day. When work slowed down,  I was farmed out to a house painter  for a couple of months. I went on to pick up some painting jobs at night to make ends meet. This spurred me on to go back to college, get a degree in Computer  Science then on to earn an MBA. I’d worked hard to put my past behind me. Now, here I was, painting houses again. All my education and years of experience and I was right back where I started.

Once I’d completed the job, a strange sensation came over me. I was actually going to miss having a job to go to each day. As much as I hated the painting, I loved having something to do that generated  an income, even if it was a meager income.

What did I learn from this?

We need to work. If we are deprived of work, we are miserable. I’ve heard that people do not die because they wear themselves out. We tend to “rust out” through lack of exercise, poor nutrition, alcohol abuse, tobacco and a number of other health damaging behaviors. My grandfather-in-law was an insurance professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He studied longevity and applied statistical proof to what most of us have observed. People who retire, tend to rust out quickly. Their days are full of nothing or nothing important.

So, if you are a job seeker and spending endless hours in front of the computer, sending resumes into the cyber black-hole, let me encourage you to stop! Do something that makes you get dressed and get out of the house and be somewhere at a specific time. Volunteer or go to networking events. Pick up a modest part-time job. Help an elderly neighbor…commit to be there every Friday at 9:00 AM to mow their lawn. Do something that yields an accomplishment you can see, even if that accomplishment is a small paycheck or weeded flowerbed.

But most of all, learn something. Keep your brain growing. Take a class at a community college (there are cheap or free classes for job seekers in the Dallas – Fort Worth area). Go to MeetUp.com to see what groups are meeting in your geographic area. Take classes on Social Media Marketing from Hubspot (they are on-line, self-paced and FREE). Take free on-line classes from Harvard. Or learn how to use social media and do it right. Get your LinkedIn profile at 100%. Make your Twitter micro-blogs interesting . Start a blog and invite me to read it. Figure out how to create your own webpage by using some of the free services.

Stretch and exercise your brain. You’re going to need it for the rest of your life.

James Snider
Business Development Director
817 203 4944

The Benefits of Negative Comments

P. T. Barnum is alleged to have said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”  I would say that the same holds true when it comes to increasing readership of your blog. Frequently people tell me that they do not want to allow comments on their blog because they are afraid of negative comments. It has been my experience that bad comments drive more traffic than positive ones do…and the worst thing of all is to have no comments at all.

My last post created a bit of a stir. More negative comments resulted from this post than from the other 70+ posts combined. What I thought was an interesting insight and useful tip has received a significant number of negative responses. Here is a sample:

This article is a load of hokum.

C’mon 2 spaces, 1 space ….Give it a rest. Life is difficult enough.

This type thing is infuriating….Should be prosecuted!

No wonder we are in such a mess in this country!

Only a few comments were actually directed at me as the author, and they were only to politely suggest that I was mistaken; that two spaces are the preferred punctuation. As a whole, the discussion was lively and informative. As it turns out, the Associated Press Stylebook specifies one space after the period. However, according to a college professor who commented, “the sixth edition of the APA style manual requires two spaces after a sentence….many universities require student papers to follow APA guidelines.”

So, the debate is still in play. According to one commenter, “My sister-in-law has a doctorate in English Literature. I asked her the proper use of commas. Her response amazed me. She said grammar, punctuation, and words are like the fashion industry. There are very few rights and wrongs, but rather what is popular at the time.”

I was not intending to be controversial, but as it turns out, I’ve benefited from it. Not only has this post attracted more negative comments than all the rest combined, but it is also the most read, the most “liked”, the most shared, and the most commented on post I have ever done. Additionally, in the past 36 hours since I posted it, I have picked up more subscriptions to my blog than in any other whole month.

Do not fear negative comments. Make sure that your content is good and let it stand on its own merit. You will take a few hits but those who are never controversial are rarely interesting.

If you are still interested,  here is an article from Slate magazine on the topic. The author is a bit intense.


B2B Business Development
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

Contact Me LinkedinWordpressBloggerTwitterFacebookBloggerYoutube

Promoting Your Blog…the easy way

I have been talking about using LinkedIn groups to promote your blog. I normally pick up an average of one hit per LinkedIn group within the first 24 hours. Then I continue to pick up random hits for the next 6 months or so. That is an average, so obviously, some LinkedIn groups generate several hits and some generate very few, if any. What I have learned to do (out of paucity of time) is to only post to those groups that give me a pretty good return for my time investment.

I’ve mentioned college alumni groups as a good source of traffic. I also find that company alumni groups generate pretty good traffic. I belong to the TI Alumni Group and the Philips Alumni Group. In many cases, there is more than one group for large companies. Choose the larger group.

You can promote just about any blog topic on alumni groups. For other groups, the closer your post is to the core of the group, the better your success rate is going to be. Posting tips on finding a job will generate more hits on “Job & Career Network” than it will on “Future Trends.”

Posting frequently helps to generate traffic. Once people have discovered that your blog is worth reading, they are more inclined to return. However,  don’t expect most people to return to your blog without a reminder. Greg Satell (Digital Tonto) is one of my favorite bloggers, but I rarely go to his blog on my own. 90% of the time, I go to his blog in response to seeing a post on LinkedIn.

Do not “misunderestimate” the importance of a good title for each post. “What I Learned  About Social Media from the Communists” will attract a lot more traffic than “Promoting Your Blog…the easy way.”

And finally, the more you blog, the more traffic you are going to get. Over time, people will find you. You will eventually cover topics that more and more people will be interested in. Also, if someone enjoys your blog today and returns in a week, they will be motivated to keep returning if the content is always fresh.

Additionally, frequent blog updates improves your SEO (the ability of search engines like Google to find you). In the post JC Penney scandal era (where Penney fooled the Google search engine), you will find SEO tricks to be less effective. However, just the shear bulk of words will increase the chances of you being found. If I blog today about Twitter…. then my blog will be found when people google “Twitter.” If I blog next about Facebook, my blog will be found when people search for “facebook.” If I use Shakespeare as an illustration, my blog will be found when…. If I mention The University of Texas…. If I quote a “Bushism”…. you get the point.

For example, I posted something about changes to the English language between the early Renaissance, when Geoffrey Chaucer wrote, and the late Renaissance, when William Shakespeare wrote. Every week, I get several hits from people who googled “Chaucer and Shakespeare.” I had no clue that anyone ever googled “Chaucer and Shakespeare.”

But one last thing I want to pass along. This is something you will probably overlook unless you are an SEO expert. When you put an image in your blog, the image will have a name. It might be “photo1.jpg” or something equally non-descriptive. You are missing one more chance to get found. If you will name your photo something related to your blog, it will help you get found.

For example, I published a post where I used some “Bushisms” to make a point. Well, Bushisms and Palin-isms; “misunderestimate” and “refudiate.”  To my surprise, I get hits every week from people who google both terms. But I was also getting hits from people who google “Strategery.” I was baffled since I did not use the word “strategery” anywhere in my post. It was only when I notice that the photo I used in my blog post was called “bush-strategery.jpg” did I realize that the title of the photograph was generating traffic to my blog.

So here you are, becoming more SEO savvy and you don’t have to know a word of html code to do it.

James Snider
B2B Business Development
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.