Archive for January, 2012

I am honored to be named to Indiana’s elite #Social46

I used to think that Klout was a sham.  Not anymore.

If you’re into social media at all, you’ve heard of Klout.  Some people swear by it.  Others think it’s all fluff.  I fell somewhere in between.  If you’re not familiar with Klout, it’s basically an online service that measures your influence from your social networks and summarizes your performance into a single numerical score.  Klout analyzes your activity on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more.  The more engagement your posts receive, the more influential you are.

Anyway, one of the ways Klout gives back to its users is by offering perks.  Most perks are pretty lame, although I did get a sweatshirt once.  Last week, I received a perk for an invite to a Super Bowl-themed event called Social 46.  I blew it off at first, figuring that hundreds if not thousands got the same perk.  But, for the heck of it, I RSVP’d yes.  A couple days later, someone from Klout e-mailed me with more information about the event.  It turns out that thousands of people were not invited to the event.  In fact, not even hundreds.  In honor of Super Bowl 46, only 46 invites were sent.

It started to sound a little more legit.  I asked a few more questions, and eventually found out that invites were sent to those with the top 46 Klout scores in the state of Indiana.  I had no idea I was even close to that.  I definitely wasn’t going to miss this event.

The event was as good as I was hoping it would be.  Social 46 was put on by the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.  The idea was to get 46 of Indiana’s most influential social media users into one room and talk all things Super Bowl.  The event was moderated by Mark Miles (Committee Chairman), Allison Melangton (Committee President and CEO), and Scott Dorsey (CEO at ExactTarget).  Mark and Allison’s insight into the tremendous effort that has gone into planning and executing all events surrounding the Super Bowl was fantastic.  Scott provided an inside look at the social media and technology efforts that have gone into the Super Bowl.  Many topics were discussed, but here were the highlights:

  • The Committee wanted to give visitors the Super Bowl experience from the moment they touch down at the airport.  There will be Super Bowl signage, buzz, and excitement all the way from the terminal to the hotel lobbies.
  • The Super Bowl is much more than a football game.  It’s a community coming together and pulling off the greatest event in all of sports.  The game will be over within a few hours, but the financial and cultural impact surrounding the Super Bowl could last a few decades.
  • On Monday, the official NFL Mobile Super Bowl phone app will be released to the public. Scott Dorsey was really hyped about this app.  Users will be able to view an interactive map of the city, displaying all of the best restaurants and bars Indianapolis has to offer. There will also be a “Know Before You Go” feature, which will show available parking spots within all of the city’s parking garages in real time.  Incredible tool.
  • A big concern for people both in and outside of Indianapolis is the threat of weather. However, Committee Chairman Mark Miles was not worried about the weather one bit. Super Bowl Village, the epicenter of the events downtown, will offer heated benches for chilly patrons.  There is also over 200,000 sq. ft. of indoor space dedicated to various Super Bowl events, including the NFL Experience area.  No matter how cold it is during Super Bowl week, I really believe locals and visitors are going to embrace it and enjoy the atmosphere.  It’ll be tough not to get caught up in it.
  • ESPN will be posted up in Super Bowl Village for the week.  Over 110 broadcast hours are planned for ESPN’s Super Bowl coverage.
  • Over 60 bands are set to play during the 10 days leading up to the big game.

The rest of the evening was spent brainstorming with everyone in the room.  I was blown away by how savvy all of the Social 46 invitees were.  Everyone brought forward great ideas on how we can integrate social media into the Super Bowl.  We even voted on a couple official Super Bowl hashtags that we will push throughout the week leading up to the game.  I promise not to overdo it, but you’ll probably see me tweeting #SB46 and #SuperBowl a fair amount leading up to kickoff.

We didn’t leave Social 46 with a shortage of free swag.  Every attendee received:

  • Exclusive Social 46 Reebok Beanie Hat
  • Exclusive Social 46 Reebok Messenger Bag
  • VIP Credentials to the Super Bowl XLVI Social Media Command Center
  • Super Bowl Media Day Credential
  • NFL Experience Ticket

After Social 46, I am extremely excited for the events to come.  I left with a much broader sense of what the Super Bowl is all about.  Sure, we’re all hoping for a great game and funny commercials.  But the entire community has come together to ensure that Indianapolis will be one of the best Super Bowl hosts in history.  Our city is built to make this event a smash hit.  I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.

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Had a total Seinfeld moment today: “YOU’RE Donna Chang?”

Had a total Seinfeld moment today that I couldn’t possibly fit into a tweet, so I figured I’d stretch it into a quick blog post.

My wife (@malburns95) and I had our 14-week check-up on Baby Burns.  Our doctor’s office has several doctors in it, and they like to have you meet each one so that you’re familiar with all of them (in case your main doctor isn’t on call when you happen to go into labor).  Anyway, the doctor we were meeting today was Dr. Edmund Gomez.  We had not met him yet, so being the observational (judgmental?) person that I am, I just assumed he was someone of Latin American descent.  It’s not something I dwelled on too much, though.  My assumption just became my expectation.  We waited a few minutes, and heard a knock on the door.  In walked Dr. Gomez.  Whoa…I was way off!  To my complete surprise, he was Japanese!

Those who aren’t Seinfeld fans may not have gotten the tie-in yet.  In an episode titled “The Chinese Woman”, Jerry sets up a blind date with a woman named Donna Chang.  The entire time leading up to the date, Jerry assumes he’s meeting up with a Chinese woman, which he is very excited about.  Upon meeting her, to his shock/dismay, he discovers that she’s white. “YOU’RE Donna Chang?”  Here’s a clip from the episode where Jerry first meets Donna Chang.  Side note: how incredible is YouTube?  I found a perfect clip from the exact episode of Seinfeld I wanted in one search!

Not an epic blog post by any means, but my life is honestly an episode of Seinfeld, so I thought this little tidbit was worth sharing.  How does that saying go?  When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME?  Lesson learned.

Five Things I’m Most Excited For in 2012

I’m a realistic person.  Therefore, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  Instead, I have taken a look at some of the things I’m most excited for in 2012.  I didn’t have to think very hard to come up with this list, as these are all things I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. 2012 is going to be a huge year.

5.  London 2012 Olympic Games — July 27 – August 12:  I was shocked at the following stat:  I have only lived through six Summer Olympics, and only remember four of them.  If I were to make a list of things I’ve taken for granted, Olympic Games would have to be toward the top. We’re talking about the greatest spectacle in all of sports, but for some reason, I’ve always watched them pretty passively.  Not this year.  I am going to watch every possible second of the 2012 Olympics.  And, of course, I’ll be following the action closely on Twitter as well. Twitter + Olympics is going to make for a very exciting few weeks this summer.

4.  Super Bowl XLVI — February 5:  Everyone loves the Super Bowl, but this one is going to have special meaning to me.  This year, the Super Bowl is coming to my backyard:  the great city of Indianapolis.  I definitely won’t be going to the game, but I’m hoping to take part in as many events leading up to the big game as I can.  The city is going to be electric, which is exactly what we need after an absolutely miserable Colts season.

3.  The Dark Knight Rises — July 20 (rumored):  I can’t think of another movie franchise that has gotten me as stoked as the Batman series has.  Batman Begins set the bar very high back in 2005, and The Dark Knight did not disappoint in the slightest three years later.  I absolutely believe that The Dark Knight Rises is going to exceed my sky-high expectations this summer.

2.  Getting an iPhone — February 19:  The ultimate “first world” item on the wish list, isn’t it?  I have been a die-hard BlackBerry user for almost four years now, but the time has come.  I am tired of justifying why I still have a BlackBerry.  For the past 6 months or so, I have had to pull out my battery at least twice a day.  It bogs down to the point where it becomes unusable and a battery pull is the only option.  The browser is laughable.  iPhones and Droids get all the app love.  No more.  It’s time for an iPhone.  February 19 is my upgrade date, so I’ll be counting down the days until I make the big switch (47…).

1.  Becoming a Dad — July 15:  My wife and I have been slowly releasing the big news over the past few weeks, but I made the big announcement to the world yesterday.  It hasn’t really sunk in yet.  When my wife told me she was pregnant a couple months ago, it felt like she had just told me what we were having for dinner.  After a couple visits to the doctor, reality has slowly started to set in, but it still doesn’t seem real.  I’m hoping for a boy, but I recently had a very vivid dream that I was playing with our little girl in the driveway.  My gut tells me there’s an 80% chance it’s a girl, but we’ll know for sure sometime in late February.  I’m just praying for health above all else.  Huge (but awesome) changes forthcoming for the Burns family!

As I glance over this list, it’s going to be a very busy/exciting February and July.  Let’s all have a terrific 2012!

We went to IKEA and hauled home an entire king-size bedroom set in my Hyundai Sonata

After my first trip to IKEA, I’m a believer.

I’ve heard people rave about IKEA, but never had the pleasure of experiencing it for myself until this past Friday.  In need of a bedroom set, my wife and I made the 2.5-hour trip from Indy to West Chester, OH for a full day’s worth of home furnishing foraging.  Mal is an IKEA veteran, so we had a solid game plan going in.

First Impressions:

I’m pretty sure the bright blue building could be seen from outer space.  I was absolutely blown away at the size of this place.  We arrived just after they opened, but the parking lot was already packed.  People were literally running toward the door.  I’ve never seen folks so excited about furniture.

We walked through the door to a grand entrance.  High ceilings, escalators, and a daycare. Wait…a daycare?  Yes, a daycare.  IKEA wants you to shop for furniture so long that you need someone to watch your children.  Amazing.  I didn’t venture into the daycare area, but it looked pretty awesome.  I’m guessing the service is complimentary, but do they feed your kids too? Either way, that was a first for me.

Up the escalator we went.  A man handed us a card and a tiny pencil.  Are we playing mini golf?  Ohhh…you’re supposed to write down what you want as you walk through the store. Mal asked me to grab one of the giant yellow bags from a nearby bin.  “Why do we need a bag? Aren’t we buying furniture?”  I still don’t know what that bag was for.

Browsing Experience:

I thought the place looked huge from the outside, but I was blown away by how massive this place was from the inside.  It was overwhelming.  I’m glad I was with someone with IKEA experience, because I probably would have had to walk out had I been by myself.

It was organized, but at the same time, it wasn’t.  Everything is set up into little apartments, but with 10 people swarming in and out of each one, it was hard to get a good look at anything.

Fellow Shoppers:

The skinny jeans per capita ratio was pretty high.  It was like these people were playing dress-up, trying to look as European as humanly possible.  Thick-rimmed glasses, stupid hats, and I’m guessing very few showers taken.  But there is an odd sense of unity there.  It’s like when you’re at a concert and everyone there is for the same reason:  music.  We all wanted furniture, and we wanted it now.

The Loot:

Mal knew exactly what she wanted before we even got there, and it didn’t take us long to find it. We walked around for quite a while looking at other stuff, then headed downstairs to check out.  It’s a pretty interesting setup:  you walk into this massive warehouse and find what you had picked out in the display area.  Everything is packaged separately in boxes, so we grabbed a cart and went to town.

We went to IKEA with the thought that we’d pick out what we wanted and just have it delivered. However, as we started to pile on the boxes, I was having other ideas.  After I got a look at the entire haul, I decided that we’d give it a shot:  we were going to try and fit an entire king-size bedroom set in our 4-door Hyundai Sonata.

Loading Up:

As we were checking out, I asked the cashier if anyone had ever fit this much furniture in a small-to-mid-sized sedan.  She laughed, and said probably not.  That made me a little nervous, but worst-case, we’d give it a try and then just have it shipped if it didn’t fit.

We wheeled our stuff to our car to size up the situation.  It wasn’t looking good.

We had a lot of stuff, and very little room to work with:

  1. King-size headboard and footboard
  2. Two nightstands
  3. 8-drawer long dresser
  4. Highboy dresser
  5. 3-drawer chest
  6. Huge mirror

We took a strategic approach.  Each box was carefully placed.  We forced doors shut. Crammed.  Jammed.  I had to move my seat so far forward, I was eating steering wheel.  But dang it, we made it.

The Assembly:

I cannot describe to you the level of genius it must have taken to package the items in these boxes.  There was not an inch of wasted space in any box.  With that said, there quite a bit of assembly required.  But it was actually pretty enjoyable.  The level of precision that this furniture is made with is staggering.  Every pre-drilled screw hole lined up every single time. The drawers glide like butter.  Everything fit together like a glove.

The quality of this stuff is surprisingly good given the price.  It looks great, and was dirt cheap. I’d say IKEA’s products offer the best bang for your buck out there.  I would take a picture of the finished product, but our room is still a disaster area.

Takeaway:

My first IKEA trip was a complete success.  However, I didn’t even get the “full” experience. We were in a bit of a rush, so we didn’t get a chance to enjoy the Swedish meat balls, cinnamon rolls, hot dogs, nor frozen yogurt that were all so hyped up.  These are going to be top priorities next time.  If you’ve never been to IKEA before, what are you waiting for?

IKEAwesome!