How ‘Amazon Go’ is going to change the retail game

You see the catch phrase “Just walk out” plastered all around the store upon entering, The Amazon Go concept store in Seattle, Washington, is certainly no ordinary shopping experience.

I was recently in Seattle for online marketing conference, Mozcon, and could not pass up the opportunity to experience the new concept store that by Amazon (And will no doubt start rolling out to the rest of the world at some point)

The concept behind the store is that the current way we buy things in retail stores is flawed and inefficient and in typical Amazon fashion, the new store aims to turn that on its head.

To go shopping at the Amazon Go store, all you need to do is have an Amazon account.

Step 1: Download the App

The app is available on all devices.

All you need to do is install it and sign into your Amazon account – thats it.

Step 2: Scan into the store

Once you arrive at the store you are greeted by some turnstiles, much like when you are entering a train station.

Simply open the app, scan the QR code as your enter, and you are in.

Step 3: Choose the things you need

Just like a normal shopping experience, you choose the things you need off the shelf and put them in your basket or in one of the complimentary reusable bags on offer.

As you select items, Amazon is keeping track of everything (Including if you pickup and then return items to the shelves)

Step 3: Just walk out!

Once you have chosen all your items, you simply walk out of the store and be on your way. No checkouts, no payments, no tipping.

Step 4: Get your receipt

Around 10 minutes after you leave the store you will get a receipt itemising all the items you selected. If for any reason their system got something wrong (It won’t), their is an easy process of lodging a query and getting a refund.

So how does the technology work?

Obviously there is a lot of technology involved to make this thing work and I won’t try and reinvent the wheel by explaining it all but basically:

To remove human cashiers Amazon has created a store that’s able to run a high-level of surveillance on the people inside it. The New York Times reports hundreds of cameras are placed around the store. They’re on shelves and above aisles, but according to TechCrunch, they don’t use facial recognition technology.

Instead, the cameras use computer vision – the process of allowing machines to “see” what is in front of them and determine what an object is – to detect when an item has been taken from a shelf by a customer and who has taken it. The system is also able to remove an item from a customer’s virtual basket if it is put back on the shelves. By using a network of cameras, Amazon is able to track people in the store at all times, ensuring it bills the right items to the right shopper when they walk out, without having to use facial recognition.

Full details here: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/amazon-go-seattle-uk-store-how-does-work

The things Amazon is doing is going to change the way we shop.

Seeing technology live in action gave me a better understanding of where things could be headed. In a society where we value better experiences in all aspects of our lives, I have no doubt this new Amazon technology will be exactly how we shop in the future.

How to get into the SEO Industry

When I was at university, SEO as a job barely existed.

It was a thing some people were already doing – but not something you could really do as a viable career.

These days universities might feature 1-2 lectures over the whole semester about online marketing – when I was there, there were 0 lectures.

Today, internet is everything.

Everyone needs to be successful online, and businesses understand that.

Problem is, there are still limited opportunities to learn about it.

  • Universities barely cover it
  • Specialised courses are generally short and only cover basics
  • There is no official training or certifications recognised by the industry (There should be but that’s for another post)

Read

The internet can be a scary place, but it’s also the BEST place to get a free education.

With a plethora of online courses, videos, blogs and communities you can get involved in, or just lurk.

The free information time is now, and SEO being a constantly changing industry – online is the perfect place to learn 24 hours a day.

Some of the best resources I can recommend to someone wanting to get into SEO are:

Do shit

Being good at SEO isn’t about the theory, it’s about getting your hands dirty.

If you are looking to get into the industry, or still studying at university, that is the best time to start something to help your learning.

  • Start a website selling a product or service. This doesn’t have to be anything groundbreaking, but will be a website that you can test and learn things on a shoestring budget. Who knows – it might even take off!
  • Start a blog to write about your experiences or journey about learnings.
  • Do some pro bono work for friends and family to get some runs on the board
  • Offer to intern at a company in any way they might be willing to take you on.

Engage

Becoming visible in the industry is actually not a hard thing. It can be hard at first but by putting yourself out there a little you will make new friends and contacts, and gain some reputation points in a crowded market.

  • Engage with people on Twitter (Start following/reading/engaging with top SEO minds around the world)
  • Join some Facebook Groups
  • Join some Slack Groups
  • Attend some local networking events and chat with people
    • Hint: There are always recruiters and business owners at these events looking for people.

Be proactive

As with anything, being proactive is the key to starting out successfully.

Never wait for anything to come knocking – go get it.

  • Being proactive makes you stand out from 90% of other job seekers
  • A high percentage of people we actually hire are not actually applying for a role.

Generally people are good, and willing to help where they can.

Even if you are not looking for jobs, reaching out to people in the industry sets you up for one day when you might be contacting them for a reason.

I often reach out to people I admire for advice or to just say hello. If you are specific about what you ask for and don’t waste their valuable time – you would be surprised how successful you can be.

A great article resource on doing that can be found here: https://tim.blog/2008/05/19/5-tips-for-e-mailing-busy-people/

What now?

If you want to get into this exciting industry, all I can say is that SEO is a growing industry (SEO is not dead like some people will lead you to believe) and there are huge career opportunities for those who can become truly skilled.

Chobani Yogurt Wins By the Hussle

Yesterday I was invited to a breakfast event held by some friends of mine at FMCG recruitment company, Miller Leith.

Obviously not being from the industry I wasn’t sure how interested I would be in the presentation, but 5 minutes in I was hooked.

The story of the rise of Chobani Yogurt really is a great one, and has been written about many times before but I’ll give you the short version here:

  • Turkish immigrant Hamdi Ulukaya, bought a disused Kraft Yogurt factory without any real plans of how the business would work.
  • His main reason for this investment was “ “I always believed the yogurt here (in the United States) wasn’t as good as the rest of the world.”
  • By 2007 they had produced the first ever tub of Greek Yogurt at their factory.
  • 4 years later it was the #1 Greek Yogurt brand in the USA
  • Now, 5 years after launching, Chobani is the #1 Yogurt brand in the Australian market overtaking many big industry players.

The big things that struck me during the presentation were:

The Buy in and Passion of the Team

Chobani have not only built a very valuable brand revenue wise. The whole team is has passion, pride, and a feeling of brand ownership you very rarely see.

Product, Product, Product

Although there is certainly more to their approach, the most important aspect they say contributed to their success is simply the best product in the market. It is by far the most important ingredient to their success.

Hustle

Being a new player in every market they enter, Chobani really have to work to infiltrate established markets. Flying in product to Australia from NYC; Going big with their ranging plans in big retailers; and thinking outside the box for marketing strategies.

A Simple Strategy

One slide that stuck in my head on the day was a simple marketing strategy they ran with:

  1.  Make great products
  2.  Make it available for sale
  3.  Give it to people to try
  4.  Invite people to talk about it

Big thanks to Miller Leith and the team for organising such a great event and inviting us along.

Qantas First Class with a Baby – Seat 5K (Bassinet Seat)

I have been saving up my Qantas points for a few years now for the right time to use them, and a trip to the USA with my wife and 5 month old baby seemed like the PERFECT time.

A few things to cover first:

  1. YES you can fly First Class on Qantas with a baby
    If you are paying for the flight you will pay 10% of the adult fare, which is going to be pretty steep. If you are upgrading, you only pay the upgrade on the adult ticket though (Nice little hack)
  2. YES they have a seat with a basinet: The first class basinet is more like a sleeping pod for the baby but its certainly available!
  3. If you are worried about the other passengers and staff while you are flying – don’t be. You have paid for the ticket like everyone has, and we found the staff to be amazing, and the other passengers fine (First class is that big and well serviced most did not even realise we were flying with a baby.

We had confirmed business class eats which were great, and we would have been totally happy with (Apart from not being able to secure one of the bassinet seats), but were pretty pumped when we found out the day before our flight out of LAX that we had all been upgraded (We were all on independently bought tickets which I have read is a big advantage to increase the chances of an upgrade)

Being that we were now confirmed in First Class, we decided to get to the airport early to enjoy the benefits that come with the ticket pre flight:

  • Extra baggage allowance (This was super useful for us travelling with a baby and all that comes with her…think stroller, carseat, bedding, feeding stuff…)
  • Dedicated First Class checkin which saved us a load of time as the line was over 20 deep for economy when we arrived.
  • Access to the First lounge (I’ll get to that later) and all that goes with that

Checkin Process

Our checkin process was very smooth, and even though getting through security checks was a little trickier with our carry on (formula, baby medications, sterile water…and a baby), we got through in a fairly quick time frame and everyone was very helpful.

Travelling in First gives you the option of the normal Qantas Business Lounge, as well as the Qantas First Lounge – for us the choice was pretty simple.

Pre-Flight – The Qantas First Lounge

The Qantas First Class lounge was amazing and featured the following:

  • Room for 221 guests
  • Complimentary premium alcohol
  • Super fast Wi-Fi
  • Complimentary premium Food (Full dining service at this Neil Perry Restaurant)
  • Showers
  • Complimentary Snacks, Newspapers/Magazines, TVs, Flight Monitors, Internet Terminals

Travelling with a baby, the major benefits of this lounge were:

  • Super quiet
  • Plenty of space: We pulled up on a pair of couches and let baby spread out on one.
  • Table service: We were able to order whatever we wanted from where we sat
  • Great bathroom facilities
  • Short walk to gate

The Flight

Once we were on the plane and settled into our seats, it was time to explore:



Major advantages to travelling in First Class with a baby (seems like a silly statement):

  • So much room
  • Extra attentive service from flight attendants
  • Lay Flat beds
  • Seperate baby sleeping area which does not impact the space for adults
  • Room to walk around when the baby becomes unsettled
  • Plenty of extra supplies for babies if you run short
    • Nappies
    • Formula
  • Spare pair of hands to hold baby if you need a break!
  • Bigger bathroom with more appropriate size change table (When compared to economy)

Was it worth it?

Considering I used points to upgrade the family to First Class – absolutely it was worth it! The experience is not something you get everyday, and certainly made our first family flight much easier on us all.

Would I pay for it? Not a chance. Business Class is certainly worth the expense in my opinion but the difference in price to secure a First Class ticket is just crazy.

I certainly hope I get to experience First Class again, potentially on another airline, but I will certainly remember this experience fondly.

My final tips for flying Qantas First Class with a baby

  • Get there early and use the First Lounge
  • Get on the plane early
  • Order food at the start if you are hungry
  • Make friends with the stewardesses
  • Get baby to sleep asap (Or whether they need)
  • Get the basinet made up right away.

Happy flying!

4 Reasons I am pumped for Mozcon

I’ve decided to head back to Mozcon for the second year running.

I try to head to the USA for one conference a year to keep up with the latest developments in the industry. I realise there are Australian conferences too, but you just can’t get the same value and learnings in terms of quality of speakers and the networking opportunities.

I have previously been to Pubcon, Las Vegas for around 4 years running, and really enjoyed all aspects of it, but last year decided to make a change and ‘upgrade’ to Mozcon – and wwas not disappointed!

There are so many reasons I cant recommend Mozcon highly enough and I’ll try and reel off a few:

Speakers

Mozcon is a little unique where speakers don’t apply, you have to be asked. The speakers at this event are hand picked for the value they can provide to the entire SEO community, so you never have any fear you will end up listening to a sales pitch.

Some of the speakers I’m looking forward to:

  • Rand and Wil (Obviously!)
  • Oli Gardner – Unbounce
  • Daniel Russell – His talk “What We Learned From Reddit & How It Can Help Your Brand Take Content Marketing to the Next Level” has me listening already

Honestly, I just picked out a couple, but last year I don’t think I even had one session I tuned out on last year – the content is that great.

Networking

I am not super big into networking as a general rule. When we head to a USA based conference, networking is great to meet new people, but its rare for anything to turn into real business opportunities (Which is totally fine!)

Mozcon does a great job of having fun networking events, that are so well organised its unheard of at a convention.

Last year we had:

  • Pubcrawl
  • Ted Talk style event with food and drinks
  • Big end of conference celebration with drinks and bowling to finish off

To illustrate just how well they were put together, and it may seem like a tiny detail. but they had even organised different beer coasters at every location for each night of the conference. How is that for ATD!

Travel

One of the best things about attending a conference in an overseas country is the ability to combine my two favourite things – work and travel. Last year I was lucky enough to visit Portland on route to Mozcon. In addition Seattle was a city I had always wanted to visit, and one it turns out I loved. The opportunity to see places like this is something I am very lucky to experience.

This year, I am adding some family travel to the end of the conference and will be joined by my wife and daughter for a few weeks in New York and LA. What could be better!

Followup actions

Every conference we attend we come back with a huge list of things we want to start doing. Like everyone though, we NEVER do them all. What’s important though is we come back to a few very actionable things we can immediately change in our business, and without fail I can say that happens every time. While it may not always be something specific that is said at the conference, being out of our own office environment gives us time to sit back and think which always leads to productive ideas.

Will I see you there?

How I work productively

I used to be like many people, always looking for the next ‘trick’ for getting more done.

I’ve tried everything from timers, plugins, single focus apps, going offline, and while all of them work for a little while and make you think you have found the secret to smashing out a tonne of efficient work, it never lasts and you go back to old habits.

That said, I have a few things that have always worked for me, that don’t really require apps or expensive equipment.

Noise cancelling headphones

My chosen pair are QC35’s which I think are the best available by a mile. They are comfortable for long time wear, wireless, great battery life, and the noise cancelling is amazing. They are not all that cheap at $400 but have been the best investment I have ever made.

Noise cancelling headphones allow me to pump some music and block out all interruptions (This works especially well when you have writing to complete, or some kind of repetitive task)

What do I listen to? It doesn’t really matter as it’s just background noise, but a few Spotify playlists I like are:

  • My Daily Mix: How good are these? Always have some great variety
  • VLOG Casey Neistat: I only have this playlist as its generally music with no lyrics, so just background noise without anything to distract.

TextEdit (Or any simple text based program)

Lists are actually really important. I try my best to write a Todo list at the end of each day (It doesn’t always happen)

Having a list of the tasks you want to complete makes it easier to see what you have to do, and what you have accomplished. Without a list you  don’t have direction, and the day can get away from you VERY easily.

There are lots of apps that can do Todo lists and are very pretty – they will work just as nicely.

Work when you work best

This might sound a bit strange, but do the bulk of your work when you know you work best. I work really well in the mornings so I try and smash out a solid few hours of work in this time. Late in the arvo I start to hit a wall, so I use that time for less labour intensive tasks. Many people are the opposite – do whatever works for you.

Exercise

I like to try and break up my day with some exercise over lunch. Whether its the gym, a run, or even just a walk up the street, getting out and doing something in the middle of the day is a great way to get some energy back and be more productive in the second half of the day.

Seems pretty simple doesn’t it!

On the flip side, these are the things I have tried and found didn’t work or were pointless to doing anything for productivity:

  • Scheduling email time
  • Blocking websites you visit often
  • Timers and trackers that tell you what websites you go to and what you spend time doing
  • Working in silence

Have a productive day!

My Travel Wish List

As you get older, and you start to get more responsibilities in your life (Mortgage, relationships, cars, bills, kids…), travel becomes a little harder.

I was very lucky when I was younger and didn’t have any responsibilities that I was to travel quite extensively and experience many different places around the world.

Now, it’s a little harder to do, but I’ve still got a few places I would really like to see before I am too old to enjoy it:

japan

Japan

Ever since I was in high school I have wanted to go here. It looks like an amazing place full of interesting foods, sights and culture. I would love to visit during the cherry blossom festival.

Europe (Iceland, Greece, Spain, Italy, More of Easter Europe)

I spent an amazing extend period travelling around Europe when I was younger but it was what I call a ‘highlights’ tour. I went to the capital cites of each country for 4-5 days and jammed in as many countries into the trip as I could (It was an amazing trip!)

Now I am a little older, wiser, and drink a little less I would love to spend more time exploring each of these countries, and a few more of the cities within them.

nyc

USA & Canada

I head to the USA each year for work and usually try and see a few places before and after the convention. Generally when I head over there for work its to the west coast so there are plenty of cities in the east I would love to get to:

  • Texas
  • NYC (I have been here several times but always looking for a reason to get back)
  • Boston
  • New Orleans
  • Canada (Just the country in general)

Over the next few years I’ll try and knock off as much of this list a possible, but with a baby on the way – wish me luck!

My 4 “Can’t live without” Android Apps

I am one of those people who don’t have a lot of apps on their phone. I don’t really play any games on my phone, and like to run a pretty clean ship when it comes to installing things on my device.

That said, I do run with a few very useful apps that I’ll outline here:

Rules: I am not going to talk abut anything thats just standard issue, or any social apps.

google_waze-06

Pocket casts

Far and away the best podcast app for android. Use it several times a day and it never misses a beat.

Lifx/Ring/Nest

I have recently installed a bit of technology in the house to bring a little bit of automation to things. I would not say these apps are PERFECT – but they all do their job effectively.

Runkeeper

I’ve tried almost all of the running apps and I find that this is the only one that does everything I need accurately. It’s also the only app I have that I have paid for the ‘pro’ version. Great software should always be rewarded.

runkeeper-update

Waze

Easily my most important app on my phone. Anyone who knows me knows I am terrible with directions. Not only does this app get me from a to b, it also ups my shortcut game and gets me everywhere a tonne faster.

Got any new recommendations for me?

Podcasts I’m listening too…

I commute about 30 mins each way to work 4 days a week.

I don’t like to fill this time with aimless commercial radio, and I am not a huge fan of audiobooks (I am trying to change that but haven’t yet…)

I like to spend this commute consuming Podcasts – and I get through a lot of them in a week.

Below are my current favourite’s:

Sports

This is some light listening and all centred around NBA. The Lowe post is the more serious of the three, with The Starters and BS being a little more light and easy to listen to. Great listens for NBA fans.

  • The Lowe Post
  • The Starters
  • The Bill Simmons Podcast

the-starters

Business

Have been listening to all these since they began. Big fans of all the people involved in these shows and although not super regular – well worth a listen when they come out.

  • Startup
  • The Journal
  • The Tim Ferriss Show

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True Crime

I’ve always had an interest in True Crime, but have only just started listening to a few podcasts on the topic. All of these podcasts cover 1 case per episode, and some are pretty intense. Really well produced and researched.

  • Criminal
  • Casefile
  • Sword and Scale

Other

This American Life is the original podcast and always amazingly put together. I consume the episodes as soon as they are released (Fair regularly)

  • This American Life

One thing I haven’t mentioned in here is how and when I listen to podcasts. I find that I need to listen to them when I can concentrate fully on the information being spoken which for me is when I’m driving, catching the train to or from work, and when I run (The latter I like the most)

Got any podcasts you know I should add to my list? Let me know

Inbox Zero is Easy

Inbox zero is a concept that many think is not achievable and a great concept but ‘impossible for them to achieve’ These people are either lazy, lying to themselves, and procrastinators (That might all be a little harsh)

Inbox Zero was developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann. According to Mann, zero is not a reference to the number of emails in an inbox; it is “the amount of time a brain is in the inbox.” Mann’s point is time and attention are limited and when an inbox is confused with a “to do” list, productivity suffers.

Mann identifies five possible actions to take for each message: delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.

The big advantages of inbox zero to me are:

  • A clean inbox equals a clear, stress free mind
  • Day isn’t ruled by thinking about all those emails you need to get to
  • A clean inbox means everything is either responded to, scheduled, moved on to someone else, or discarded: Organised.
  • Gets things done so you can move onto more important things

Email is something that in the current working environment, is impossible to get rid of completely (even though I know people have tried), so the best we can do is manage it well and not let it control us.

The rules I have for achieving Inbox Zero every day (This should 100% be the goal, not once a week, or every now and then…)

  • Be quick and to the point with replies. It’s very rare that it should take you more than 5 minutes to send or reply to an email. If it does perhaps a phone call is in order?
  • Action emails straight away as much as possible. If you leave it in your inbox to do ‘later’, you are really doing this because you don’t want to reply, your putting it off. Rip the band aid off as soon as you get it.
  • If you can’t or don’t need to respond/action to an email right away, use a tool to flick it back to your inbox at a later date when you will action it appropriately (Use a chrome plugin such as Mailfred or Boomerang)
  • Have good labels setup (And auto labels) in gmail to make finding mail easier (Although the search function is actually pretty good)
  • Unsubscribe from as many email newsletters as possible (Only keep ones that are super important) as these can be big time drains and add to the volume of emails you have

Don’t put it off!

Choose today as your first day of inbox zero, and then just start the habit. You will gain a reputation as someone who responds quickly, and you will escape from the handcuffs of your emails!