Chauncey is the Real King of Denver Sports

The last time I saw Chauncey Billups he was sitting right below me in a court side seat watching the CU Buffs beat Iowa State back on February 1.  It was an off night for the Nuggets and Chauncey had driven up from Denver to root on the NCAA tournament hopeful Buffs.

Beneath a towering mural of Chauncey himself still adorning the wall of the Coors Event center sat several kids guest of none other than CB himself.  Chauncey’s Kids Roundup.

In one of the few real sports towns in America that can advertise being the home to four major league franchises – Nuggets, Broncos, Rockies and Avalanche -  home grown Chauncey Billups is king.  King of the (Park) Hill the tattoo on his shoulder reads.

From Mr. Colorado Basketball at George Washington, taking CU to the big dance, on to a World Championship with the Detroit Pistons and a NBA Finals MVP and the ultimate return home to his beloved Denver Nuggets, CB is the most famous athlete ever to come out of Denver.

A devoted family man who never has been in any kind of trouble he has represented the Denver sports fan with the respect they deserve.

When the trade went down on Monday night that shipped off MTV wannabes Melo and LaLa to the bright lights of New York and their reality TV show in waiting, CB got caught up in the wash and begrudgingly became part of the trade.  Having had earned the respect of his peers from around the league and his championship pedigree CB’s salary was needed to make the deal work.

This was the real tragedy in the transaction; Denver had lost their true icon.  Nobody and I mean nobody – not Melo, Stan or Josh Kroenke, Masai Ujiri or George Karl – wanted to win an NBA Championship for the Denver Nuggets more than Chauncey Billips.

He may be gone for now, but this is still Chauncey’s hood.  He’ll come back and when he does we, the Denver sports fan, will forever give him the respect he deserves.

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Social Media, College Grads and the Interview

One of the aspects of social media in today’s world is the absence of filters.  A spontaneous response to sensory input is output on Twitter or Facebook instantaneously.

In fact, most communication between the younger generation is electronic.  Absent in this is context and human interaction that in turn often leads to a stream of unfiltered unconsciousness hitting the airwaves.

Anyone who has teenagers around the house has also heard the verbal version.  I know as a parent I have a hard time keeping up with the sheer velocity of speech at times.  Combine that with the generational evolution of the English language and I’m often left scratching my head asking myself what I’ve just heard.

Now I’m beginning to see the effects of this social transformation in the workplace as teens become 20′s and college grads becomes first time interviewees.

Yesterday I interviewed a bright young candidate who had recently graduated from a top university and it sounded like what I heard from time to time in my kitchen.  Rapid speech, inability to stay on topic, filling second gaps with superfluous conversation, absence of filter, etc..  By the end of the interview I was exhausted from continually trying to reign them in.  I have three kids in this age band so am more conditioned than most.

One of the challenges of the know-everything-about-everybody TwitterBook generation is going to be understanding that a job interview is not an extension of your e-life.  It’s real life.

In the early days I used to chuckle at all of the HR missives that were sent around the office about questions we could not directly ask a candidate.  In today’s world it’s become irrelevant because you’ll get the answer you’re looking for without really trying.

If you are a recent college grad looking to join the permanent workforce here are some helpful tips for hitting the interview trail.

1.  Play grown-up for a day.  The person interviewing you will likely be a generation older than you.  As such you should approach your interview accordingly, more like talking to your parents than to your friends.  Your days for ruling the world are still a ways off.

2.  Stay focused.  Don’t run on with answers that provide no added value.  Listen carefully to the question, answer it the best you can, and provide examples wherever possible.  Be engaging, but know when to stop.  I’ve found that the little bird on my shoulder always knows when to tell me to stop.

3.  Don’t be embarrassed by your lack of experience.  Companies don’t expect you to have much relevant work experience coming out of school.  But many make the mistake of trivializing prior work experience which sends the wrong message.  If you are interviewing to be an analytical chemist, for example, tell me what you learned about yourself working that crappy service job that will make you a better employee for us.

4.  Research the company.  Here is the perfect place to put those e-skills of yours to work.  You are new at this and haven’t been in the workforce in anything but a temporary role.  If you can familiarize yourself with the company even a little bit and understand how you may best fit in the better off you’ll be.  Most that interview you will also ask if you have questions of them.  Being able to ask one in return shows engagement.

With each and every interview you’ll get better at it.  A little preparation will go a long way to helping land that job you want on your first try.

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Friday Bytes 2.11.11

Mark Cuban made an interesting observation in his blog about the Super Bowl last week.  Nobody seemed to care that the game wasn’t televised in 3D.  I’ve seen one movie in 3D and that was Avatar.  3D works on a big screen with pumping sound when the total experience can envelope you.  3D in the basement doesn’t work for me, not even on a 60 + inch set.  The whole glasses thing is just too much to mess with.

And while we’re on entertainment, there was another interesting post this week about the digital music business.  Fred Wilson over at AVC.com talked about his frustration in accessing music content in today’s environment.  Fred is much closer to this than me, but I sympathize with him.  My music downloads are all done through iTunes because it is easy, simple and I’m an Apple guy.  I love music and am pretty computer literate, but having my own last.fm station is too much of a reach right now.

President Obama in his address to the U.S. Chamber of Congress said, “I’m here in the interest of being more neighborly.  Maybe we would have gotten off on a better foot if I had brought over a fruitcake when we first moved in.”  I hated fruitcake when my mom used to bring it home from the office because nobody wanted anything to do with it.  Apparently they don’t like it on Capitol Hill either.

Did you know that with a little extra cash you could get a DNA portrait of you and your loved ones?  That’s right.  The DNA revolution has created an evolution of a different sort, art.  The company DNA11 has their photo gallery on display here.

In the aftermath of the Super Bowl, the most watched television event of all time, comes the reality of the lockout and the CBA renewal.  Not enough money to go around they say so both sides want to reach into each others pockets.  Closer to home the Denver Broncos have already begun to prepare their staff for reductions and pay cuts.  From afar we think this is about millionaires fighting with billionaires, but as a local talk show host explains it’s the little guy that’s about to get screwed.

This week I reduced my Twitter following to one half of the number that follow me.  This was done as an experiment to enrich the information flow of my Twitter stream and to facilitate a greater degree of interaction.  My bandwidth seems to be better at 175 than 300 and I’ve noticed what I am missing.  I can assure you that if you have over 1,000 followers you don’t even know I’m not one of them anymore.

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Friday Bytes 2.4.11

“Never before has Congress required that everyone buy a product from a private company (essentially for life) just for being alive and residing in the United States,” Judge Vinson writes in declaring ObamaCare unconstitutional.

No kidding.  After blogging on Wednesday about a prolonged cable outage that lasted 18 hours Comcast contacted me….through my blog.  Read the comment.  A day later they called my home and offered me a pro-rata credit for one day’s usage.   Maybe there is yet hope for true customer service.

It has been a remarkable week in the Middle East where one regime after the other seems to be on the verge of collapse.  Of course most Americans attribute these events to our recent push for democracy throughout the region exhibiting the very arrogance that gets us into trouble in the first place.  The fact is that the Egyptians have been pushing for democracy for well over 50 years.

Wednesday was National Signing Day in the college football world where high school athletes commit to play for various schools.  With the prominence of football in this country I’m surprised ESPN hasn’t yet devoted a full day of coverage much like they have done for the NFL draft.  If your school signed a bunch of 4 and 5-star athletes don’t get too excited.  Boise State, a top 10 team for the last several years, is comprised of several players off the proverbial scrap heap.

This week cold temperatures across the country brought miserable conditions far and wide.  Here in the Denver metro area we had the cold (overnight lows of -20), but not the snow or the wind like other parts of the country.  School was canceled Tuesday and Wednesday to my son’s delight.  I also became a bigger fan of my GoLite 800-fill hooded down parka.  That thing rocks!

Down in Dallas it’s been a tough week leading up to Superbowl XLV. Conditions have been awful and reports are that businesses are only expecting a fraction of the profits they were hoping for.  Luckily the game itself will be played indoors in the Cowboys’ spanking new mega stadium.  But the NFL has to be a little nervous about 2014 when for the first time the game itself will be played outdoors in a cold weather environment at The Meadowlands in northern New Jersey.

As to my pick:  I’ve been surprised at the number of people going with the Green Bay Packers.  Yeah, they have been on a roll winning on the road in New Orleans and Atlanta to get here.  But the Steelers are the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger is already a two-time winner.  I’ve seen him make too many big plays in big games to go against him.  I am going with QB experience and picking the Steelers to win it.

My favorite tweet of the week comes from @GoodInkInc and it reads “Dear Men Who Let Their Pants Sag Below Their Butts: If you can’t get into your pants properly, what makes you think you can get into mine?”

See you next week.

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Why Your Cable Company Owes You A Real Answer

Since the internet was shut down in Egypt earlier this week I have been thinking about the internet kill switch.  Does it exist?  What would be the effect on home and business of an extended outage?  Others have thought about it too from a different perspective.

Perhaps prophetic thinking or perhaps not but last night our cable connection went down.  It has now been down about 14 hours and with it all connectivity to the outside world including our home phone.

It didn’t occur to me that our phone would go down for an extended time when I switched over from Qwest to a bundled internet service from Comcast that included VOIP.  Phones never go down in emergencies even when the power goes out.  And besides, who needs a home phone anymore?

Well, it turns out we do.

We are in the midst of a two-day emergency school shutdown because of extreme low temperatures.  The school district notifies you by home phone…as would any other emergency agency for a reverse 911 call. Cell phones are back up and not part of the automated call.

I called Comcast our cable provider and as usual they can tell you there is a problem in your area, but won’t tell you what it is or give you a time it may come back up.  Of course that is a lie because they know exactly what is wrong and where and how many techs they’ve sent to fix the problem and how long it will take.  But they don’t want to get into it with the customers so they put some poor schlep on the end of the line to take the heat.  And he really doesn’t know.

But 12 hours?  Really?  And you can’t tell me what the deal is?  Of course you can.  The tip off was when in the first few sentences the customer service rep offered to compensate me for any loss.  Upon hearing that my first thought was uh oh, this is big.  My second thought was how much of my $200 per month goes to training the rep in saying “I don’t know” because they sure do it well?

Well I suppose I could watch local news channels that list the school closings but I can’t receive any channels.  I’ll look it up on the internet.  No you won’t.  My iPad?  Nope, it’s only wi-fi.  Ah, my iPhone.  Bingo.  My lifeline.  Thank you ATT.

I’m being facetious here, but this little nuisance of losing cable for over the last 14 hours has caused me to re-evaluate my personal network for communication.  It’s not just about having toys anymore.  It’s about being connected and being connected at all times.

Beyond that, cable providers also need to understand that there comes with it a higher standard for customer service when you sell customers their entire communications network.  This is not just about playing COD with friends anymore.  It’s about providing basic communications in a new era and information when things go wrong.  “I don’t know” doesn’t cut it anymore.

It has been suggested by some that the smartphone will become our link to the world for everything.  I have been thinking about that too, and interestingly enough, it has been for me over the last 14 hours.

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127 hours – A Must See Movie

I hope 127 Hours wins every Oscar that it is up for.  It is just that good.  The King’s Speech was phenomenal as well, but I could identify with this one.

I went to see the movie with a hiking buddy of mine and our wives and youngest kids.  We are fortunate to live in Colorado where hiking is a way of life and trails from the easiest to the most extreme are at your fingertips.  Each year we read about dozens of dramatic rescues, but there has never been a story quite like this.

He and I have done some magnificent hikes over the years, including the extremely difficult Kalalau Trail twice along the Napili coast of Kauai.  Both times we had my oldest two boys and once his oldest two girls (only one went the second time).  We are now planning a third trip, this time with our youngest in tow.  We felt they were ready for a movie like this and we were right.  They both (14) loved it.

For those of you that don’t know the story, Aron Ralston, 27 at the time, was hiking in the Canyonlands National Park, Utah when he slipped and fell in a narrow slot canyon and his right arm became wedged under a half-ton boulder.  After being stuck for 5 days he amputated his arm to gain his freedom and save his life.

My friend an I always talk about gear, the right stuff to take on a hike depending on related factors.  I remember being impressed with the scene after Ralston got stuck when he laid out all the gear he had with him, similar to the scene in Apollo 13, to decide what he could use to try to free himself.

His gear bag was perfect lacking only his Swiss army knife, the one thing that would have made his horrific amputation of his right forearm less barbaric.  He could have used a satellite locator beacon that is now common equipment on wilderness hikes or back country skiing, but in all likelihood that wouldn’t have saved his arm.

I’ve never faced a life or death experience like Ralston did.  It is impossible for anyone to speculate what they would have done in a similar situation.  His calm in staring right death right between the eyes was remarkable.  He tried everything possible to extricate himself from that boulder.  Only when he reached the final life or death decision point, aided in part by delusion I’m quite certain, did he choose to go down fighting.  And he won.

The one mistake Ralston did make happened before the accident, not telling anybody where he was going.  It’s a cardinal rule of hiking, but we’ve all done it.  He’d been to the Canyonlands several times before and he was just out for a day hike, so why bother?  Who would ever think a half-ton boulder that had withstood the test of geologic time would give way right at that exact time you happen to step on it?

I thoroughly enjoy movies that cause you to think and this story is one of them.  It has caused me to revisit several hikes I’ve taken and likely will change the way I prepare for the next one.  This is just a remarkable movie that everyone should see.

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Friday Bytes

I was struck by the lack of typical partisan reaction during President Obama’s State of the Union Address.  Some analysts attributed this to the simple fact that Democrats sat with Republicans.  Funny how that works.  I remember my grade school teachers mixing up the boys and the girls for the very same reason.

I finally got out to see The King’s Speech this week.  I thought it was tremendous and it proves you can make a serious movie entertaining (and very funny) with not much more than two hours of dialog.  Obviously great acting performances by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush were key.  Am I the only one who never heard the story before now, not in any history class from elementary school through college?

Three weeks into American Idol and I’m really enjoying the pairing of Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson.  Tyler has surprised me with his humor and ability to deliver bad news in a non-confrontational way.  I also like the fact that they’ve lowered the age limit to 15.  To me, the term American Idol suggests the new idol be under 21 years old.

I’ve been thinking more and more about ditching Facebook.  It almost feels like I have an electronic stalker through their advertising push into re-targeting and sponsored stories. Given that half of my 55 friends are high school chums I haven’t seen in 40 years and the other half are friends I see all the time, what’s the point?

Unless your head has been in a hole, this week will be remembered as the week that Twitter blew up the NFLI wrote about it earlier this week. In the few days since many of the players themselves seem to be rethinking their use of Twitter in commenting on their fellow players.  Like many of us non-NFLers have come to find out,  communicating in 140 characters or less takes practice and can be easily misinterpreted.

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Challenger space shuttle disaster.  For many born in the 70′s this was as defining a moment as President Kennedy’s assassination was for those born in the 50′s.  What was unique about this mission was the presence of Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher to travel into space.  She had captivated the nation’s youth leading up to the launch and many schools around the country were tuned in to watch live as a result.  But there were 6 other crew members on that flight who also need to be remembered on this day.

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For CU Fans the Next Step is Winning and Losing With Class

The CU Buffs took on 6th ranked Kansas last night at the Coors Event Center in front of a sellout crowd.  It was the last visit for the perennially ranked Jayhawks as the Buffs are headed to the Pac12 next year.  The Buffs gave the Jayhawks a scare but came up short 82-78.

CU’s basketball program has come a long way in short period of time under first year head coach Tad Boyle.  I like everything I see from Boyle and his team.  Most impressive to me is that they never quit even when they get down.

Winning records puts fans in the seats and AD Mike Bohn has to be happy with what he has seen so far this year.  Last night for the second time this year the student section was packed.  Student fans are important because they’re more rabid, have more stamina than your average fan and represent the university.

What Mike Bohn and other administrators in attendance couldn’t have been happy with, however, was when the student body broke out with the repetitive chant “Fuck you, KU” during the first half and then repeated it later on in the second half.

Come on students.  Your team deserves better than that and so does your university.

Simply put, this was classless and unnecessary and cast a pall over what had otherwise been a competitive and entertaining game.  Perhaps this goes hand and hand with the frustration of not having a winning program over the last several years, but that’s no excuse.  There is no place in college athletics for this type of behavior.  It is embarrassing to the school and not representative of what CU stands for.

I had the following text exchange this morning with my son who just happens to be a freshman at KU.

Pretty much sums it up.

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The New Power of Twitter

Would you say the same thing in an interview as you post on Twitter?

What used to be mindless banter between followers has turned into source material for public opinion.

Case in point is Jay Cutler’s knee injury and how quickly this rose to a story of national prominence.  By the end of the third quarter in Sunday’s game public opinion was crushing Cutler’s actions fanned by the flames of Twitter.

By yesterday morning the lead story on every station and in every paper was Jay Cutler, not the Green Bay Packers, the team going to the Super Bowl.

As it turns out Jay Cutler did have an injury to his knee causing all those who commented to alter their course ever so slightly, but the damage had been done.

In the instantaneous stream of social media there are few filters.  Twitter has become the ticker tape of life, the endless stream of data that each of us carries attached to our hip.

We’ve seen the power of Twitter in saving lives during emergencies like Haiti.  We now also know that Twitter can instantaneously call into question and destroy a football player right before our eyes.

I’ve never seen anything quite like this in my two years as a Twitter user. A post game press conference at which most of the questions were related to tweets made during the game.

I’ve also never witnessed such a viral vilification of an individual.  Twitter provided a platform for the irrelevant to become relevant again in questioning Cutler’s toughness.  The media took it and ran in a rush to judgment in absence of facts.

Twitter makes it easy for us to speak before we think.  Spontaneous tweets can often come at the expense of thoughtfulness. Those tweets, however, are part of the permanent record and can come back to bite you.  In this case it may happen to some.

From the first tweet 5 years ago Twitter has evolved from a mobile status update service to a permanent archive of our society in the Library of Congress.

The innocence of Twitter is gone.  It now matters what you say on Twitter.

This is the new power of Twitter.

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Jay Cutler and Perception Versus Reality

Only the MRI will confirm whether there is damage to Jay Cutler’s knee.  How much damage, could he have still played, what was the pain level, did he quit – those are questions that won’t be answered by the MRI.  Those questions are left to the fans to speculate.  And based on the early returns Cutler is doomed.

NFL football is a brutal sport and every week we see players injured from violent hits.  On the biggest stage of Jay Cutler’s career, in front of his home fans and with a Super Bowl birth on the line we didn’t see that violent hit that took him out of the game.  So naturally everyone is questioning what happened.  Now if you knew that he had been sacked more than 50 times this year you wouldn’t question his toughness.

Unfortunately for Cutler, Philip Rivers once played in an AFC Championship with a torn ACL.  This is what it is supposed to mean to players, especially the quarterback, the warrior above all warriors trying to lead his team to victory.  When an injusry doesn’t appear to rise to that level perception takes over.

In Jay Cutler’s case perception took over several years ago when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos.  Petulant, moody, disengaged, removed, not a team player, questionable decision making – all perception-related terms that have been used to describe him.  Notice toughness has never been questioned.  After all, this was a player who played a full season as an undiagnosed diabetic early in his career.  How could you question his toughness?

Then the whole Josh McDaniels saga began in Denver and Cutler was shipped out to the Bears before the ink was dry on McDaniels’ contract.  Cutler took the hit because afterall, he was the one perceived to be the problem.  Two years later and following the complete destruction of the Denver Broncos, McDaniels gets fired and Jay Cutler is playing for the NFC championship.

The perception had been cemented that Cutler’s physical tools were great enough to overcome his mental shortcomings, but were they enough to lead the Bears to the championship?  You heard it from the analysts leading up to the game, that Cutler would make a bad decision or two and that they may be the turning point in the game.

After being largely ineffective through the first half of the game Cutler got hurt and didn’t return.  Immediately his toughness was called into question.  What?  Toughness?  Where did that come from? And it came from everywhere via Twitterland blasting Cutler, his toughness and resolve.

The response indicates that everyone out there has a perception of Jay Cutler being one of questionable character.  Reality is irrelevant.  The speed with which this took hold during the course of the game was remarkable.  It wouldn’t have happened in a tweetless environment, but that’s the new world.  Nevertheless, perception is now in the driver’s seat and Cutler’s reputation has taken such a hit he may never recover.

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