SkyMall is Refueling for Takeoff

SkyMall is Refueling for Takeoff

I recently wrote an article about my plans to get SkyMall back into the air, and I’m pleased to say that we are in the “refueling” stage of our journey back to the skies! While there are a lot of steps, tons of work, and some potential turbulence ahead of us, the deeper I get into the process, the more exciting it is. This is absolutely a huge opportunity and a great and profitable business. I cannot wait to get started and launch SkyMall back into the skies where it belongs. The press (and the world) has taken notice, too. CNBC, CNN, NBC News,TechCrunch, Engadget, AdWeek, TravelPulse, and even the Hollywood Reporterpicked up the story (along with dozens of other outlets). SkyMall is part of our culture as travelers, and the response has been amazingly encouraging that I am on the right track. It’s clear that people want a new SkyMall. Transparency is one of my favorite business practices (I even wrote about that in my book, Pocket Man), so here is some radical transparency as I lay out further details of the plan. If you hear a grinding sound, it’s probably just my business partners rolling their eyes… but transparency is that important! Here is another look under the hood, with more detail. The Problems Whenever a business enters bankruptcy proceedings, it’s a foregone conclusion that “something went wrong.” It could be the economic or political climate (macro trends), it could be a cash flow or marketing issue, it could be a management issue, or something else entirely. There are an almost infinite number of permutations and combinations...
Best Advice for Entrepreneurs: F-U! Follow-Up (or Fail)

Best Advice for Entrepreneurs: F-U! Follow-Up (or Fail)

When you are first starting out in business, the people around you can have a profound influence on your direction, approach and even your happiness. If you’re lucky, you’ll be steered in the right direction by a good mentor, but sometimes even the best advice from a mentor doesn’t feel like it at the time. In my case, it turns out the best advice I ever received became one of the major keys to my success once I consistently followed it… but it took me years to realize how powerful that piece of advice was. F-U Lawyers Imagine this: I’m in my early 20s and just graduated law school. My future is ahead of me. I’m excited to start living an “L.A. Law” existence… fat paycheck, nice apartment, and a Porsche. I knew I wanted to buy a Porsche. After all, that’s what lawyers do, right? And I worked hard through law school so I could get a job at a great firm. And I did… but I never imagined how much WORK it would be. Enter my first law office mentor: Don Shindler. Don was a partner in the firm, and like Mr. Miyagi, he believed that the best way to get on track was to start “going through the motions” until the lesson finally sunk in. At first, I thought he just didn’t like me. He constantly reminded me about tasks, perpetually beat me to the punch (not literally) with follow-ups, and he insisted that I always CC him on all communications. Not important communications, not certain communications, ALL communications. This didn’t feel like the life of...
SkyMall Will Fly Again. Get Ready for a New Pilot.

SkyMall Will Fly Again. Get Ready for a New Pilot.

New developments in SCOTTeVEST’s bid to resurrect the bankrupt seat-back pocket catalog company A few weeks ago, the news broke that SkyMall was bankrupt. You know SkyMall – everyone knows SkyMall – that ubiquitous catalog found in the seat-back pockets of every commercial airplane in the US. Even if you didn’t love SkyMall, everyone knows what it is. I know it better than most: I sold my multi-pocket travel clothing line SCOTTeVEST inside for years. At first, it seemed like a shame that SkyMall was going away. What else would people read while flying cross-country after their devices ran out of power? Then, it seemed like an opportunity. Then opportunity turned into a plan. CNBC,CNN, NBC News, Reuters, TechCrunch, Engadget and even the Hollywood Reporter agreed with me: I am going to get SkyMall back into the air. But the media outlets are all missing something, and I’m going to tell you right here, right now, the rest of the story. The Plan for SkyMall: A LinkedIn Exclusive While I am playing much of our strategy close to the (SCOTTe)vest – and keeping a few aces in my pockets (since I am Pocket Man) – I just have to tease some of our favorite developments in our bid to rescue SkyMall. More than just a catalog. Sure, it looks like a catalog. But SkyMall has always been entertainment first, and shopping second. That’s the secret sauce that made it so compelling. While the “social sharing” of SkyMall’s content was limited to just exposing your travelling companion yet another outrageous product, the content was always entertaining. We will dial up...
The Writing on the Wall: How I am dealing with my Facebook addiction

The Writing on the Wall: How I am dealing with my Facebook addiction

I am a CEO overcoming a Facebook addiction Facebook addiction – like any addiction – has real consequences in the physical world that affect you and everyone around you. I am a Facebook addict. That’s not an opinion; it’s a fact as plain as the nose on my face(book). While it may not be as life-threatening as a drug or alcohol addiction, the psychological aspects are very similar, to the point of being a recognized medical condition in Japan and elsewhere. It was also the single largest daily use of my time other than sleeping, which is pretty sad. So, about two weeks ago, I went cold turkey. I could easily justify using Facebook for my job as the CEO of SCOTTeVEST (a clothing line full of hidden pockets to carry gadgets). I even wrote a book about passionate self-promotion, and Facebook is certainly a tool for self-promotion. But it became clear to me that my addiction cut far deeper than any excuses I could make about it, and I decided to do something about that. I am constantly experimenting in my e-commerce business and trying to optimize different aspects of it. I use A/B tests to make improvements to the site, and I test experimental designs in products. I applied that same experimentation mindset to kick my Facebook habit, and like any experimenter, I’ve been observing what has happened to me in my first weeks away, and planning for what comes next. How addicted was I? A lot of people spend hours of time on Facebook each day, but my habit pushed me far beyond simply being a...
Evolve or Fail: How I Reinvented Myself as an Entrepreneur

Evolve or Fail: How I Reinvented Myself as an Entrepreneur

It takes more than passion, promotion and money to sustain a business. It requires leadership and management (and a dozen other things, but let’s just stick with these two for now). Before I started SCOTTeVEST in 2000, I moved from working in a dysfunctional family business to working in odious law firms to working in a dysfunctional startup in one of the most wild west periods of modern American business. In other words, I had never worked for a “real” company. I had never been part of a typical business environment or dealt with employees. This both helped me and hurt me. I definitely had to learn things on the fly, but for every stumble and everything I should have known better than to do (but did anyway), I feel like my unique approach got me where I am today. I’m proud to be one of the biggest local employers in my area, and I’m proud that I keep factories hopping and UPS delivering packages all year long. But a funny thing happened – and had to happen – as I went from being a one-man show to a business owner. I had to evolve as a person. I had to develop leadership skills, and rely on motivations other than money to get the best work out of my employees and contractors. I had to create a corporate culture for people to understand the core values that make SCOTTeVEST successful, so they can continue in the same vein when I’m not looking over their shoulders. It was really tough. Being passionate and inspiring people comes naturally to me, but...