Company Credit Card and Responsibility

f3dff4d2-f1d0-41f4-ac1b-551e718ac398I was about 23 years old when I started traveling for work. When the opportunity was offered to me, a lowly computer technician, I reluctantly accepted because it meant I would receive a raise in salary and title. Afterwards, I was full of anxiety because I had a credit card but the limit on that card was hardly enough to book my first flight let alone pay for meals, rental car, etc.

I actually still know the number, from memory, for the American Express card I received from my employer before I had to book my first flight. I was issued a mobile phone, a credit card, and anything else I might need to spend 20+ days a month on the road. I was told that I would need to complete an expense report and treat the card as if it were my own money. If the card had a limit, I was unaware of it. I certainly never reached it and I had to purchase computers, networking gear, web cameras, and other tech related items for customers while in the field. I remember breaking down my breakfast based on my current location: Denny’s, Coco’s, Waffle House, or other greasy spoons locals told me to check out. Hotels were easy, Hilton, Marriot, or Holiday Inn and that all depended on the points I could accumulate. My rental car was always a Hertz because of the points and the in car GPS (before it was really a thing).

Everything I charged on that gold American Express card was a decision on whether I myself would buy the item if it were my money. The answer was always, yes. To this day I have a company expense account and card and have never had any of my expenses called in to question.

My stepson and my daughter are both students at El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills, CA. I could not be happier with the education and opportunity the kids receive there and we have plenty to compare it against. My daughter was a student at Canyon High School in Santa Clarita before we transferred here. Canyon was a great school and I find ELCO to be comparable if not better. My stepson was a student at Canoga Park High and ELCO is a different world comparatively. Better. Recently, there has been news about the principal at ELCO and his supposed misuse of school funds for personal travel and meals. I thought I would try to be objective and lay out my thoughts.

The school board has identified misuse and suspended the cards of some of the administrators. On Facebook, a woman said that we should not judge and we should let the school work out the details for fear of losing our charter. Another concerned person stated we should hold them accountable and send an email expressing our interests in an ethical resolution.

These things are rarely black and white. In my mind, these arguments are a lot like the other back and forths I see on Facebook. For example, illegal immigration is going to bankrupt our country. On the other side, illegals will bankrupt our working economy. If illegals leave, who will do the work no one wants to do? If all of the illegals stay they are going to use all of our social services we as good tax paying citizens pay for. Neither is actually true. It’s more gray than it is black and white. Something in the middle is more likely. Produce markets would suffer temporarily and the relief on our social services would most likely be negligible if all illegals were sent home.

Back to the El Camino Real story. By all means, the principal was allowed to operate with autonomy and was not held accountable by anyone on the school board. I have sat on the Board of Directors a couple of times and one of the very things usually discussed is the budget. Why did none of the Board members call this to the carpet before it became a Daily News article? My guess is that it was beneficial to the school, its staff, and it’s students. Or… at least it was considered to be. I also believe that the principal probably used the card just like I did, like it was his money. I have no doubt that he would see no issue in spending those amounts for dinner if it were his personal money. I hope I am right because then at least the reason is understandable.

Assuming this is true, maybe the folks should get their cards back and a system of checks and balances should be put in place for accountability purposes. All expenses should be verified by a board member and the treasurer should be doing their level best to account for the money being spent for all purposes. That statement is most likely naive, but there are others who are more qualified than myself who will come up with accountability measures for the principal and his colleagues.

Lastly, if the principal is relieved of his duties, the school will not fall into ruin and become “just another LAUSD school”. He will be replaced by someone who has the education and social savvy to navigate the charter school world. Most of us will never notice the difference. Rarely is the worst outcome, the outcome. Please don’t take the worst possible outcome and make it the only outcome on either side. Most likely it’s somewhere in the middle.

The story is still developing but for now I will put my pitchfork back in the garage and wait it out.

Here are the articles and responses you should read.

The letter from the school about the impending story by the Daily News.

Here is the Daily News article

Vizio Soundbar Volume Up and Down

My current setup in the living room consists of a Sony 60 inch LED TV, a Vizio soundbar with wireless subwoofer, and a FireTV. My cable service is provided by AT&T Uverse, in truth you will read a ton of comments or reviews saying how horrible their service is, but their TV packages are legit and so I completely vouch for that part. The internet was subpar and so as soon as my deal with them was complete, I switched internet providers but kept their TV service.

I did want to document how I fixed a very annoying problem with my setup that others may be experiencing. If you have a Vizio soundbar and the sound is going up and down while you are watching TV then you will need to do the following: Turn off TruVolume. The technology is meant to levelize the audio between regular TV and commercials but sometimes it just doesn’t play well with your devices. Turning it off fixed my problem and I bet it will fix yours as well.

Azul Cossio and unboxing Rose Gold Macbook and Apple Watch

Azul, owner of Blootique and my wife, is attempting to cover the fashion side of technology by unboxing items she finds sexy. Apple products are sexy, her specialty, and her current unboxing of the Rose Gold Apple Watch has 8,000 views as of this writing.

Because today is her 29th birthday again, here is her unboxing of her birthday gift, a new Rose Gold Macbook.

If you would like see and shop some of Azul’s store happenings make sure to check out blootique.com.

Email marketing on a side project budget

I have read a ton of tips and tricks about the content I should be including in my emails. This is not that kind of article. This is an article about doing email marketing on a micro-budget by using the reliability of the Amazon Simple Email Service and Sendy.

Send Newsletter Emails for Free or close to it

AllTeamz.com uses Sendy to send our email campaigns and it allows us to track all of the things that the big boys do. Opens, Clicks, Bounces, Unsubscribes, etc . I don’t want to say that Sendy is free but after the initial cost of the purchase it’s going to save you a ton of money, essentially costing you $1 per 10,000 emails. I happened upon Sendy by accident and left MailChimp immediately. With a little technical know how I was ready to move my operations over to the new service. I manage a mailing list of 20,000 players, parents, and coaches specializing in youth sports and email once a month for a total cost of $2.

Screenshot 2016-02-05 22.12.23

Email marketing is hard enough and if you are lucky to capture thousands of subscribers, you shouldn’t have to make decisions about the cost of communicating being a blocker. If you have access to a server and a dedicated domain or subdomain, (an EC2 instance in AWS will work) you can have Sendy set up in less than an hour.
Check out Sendy, a self hosted newsletter web app that lets you send emails 100x cheaper via Amazon SES.

The part I had the most trouble with in the beginning was the formatting of the newsletter itself, now that I have built a couple of templates and save them in Sendy, it’s plug and play for text and images when doing future mailings.

I generally work on my campaigns at night after I have left the comfort of my day job.  I never send my campaigns then though, I schedule them for the morning hours when people are more likely to open and read them. I love that the reports are  granular letting me know what my subscribers are REALLY interested in by showing me what they accessed.

If you have any questions leave them in the comments.

Ending THIS way was not exactly what this dad expected

Another parent’s response to “I Never Thought It Would End THIS Way” by Karrick Dyer

Karrick is a great writer. I read his story and then proceeded to read several other of his articles. I enjoyed his blog. To summarize, he wanted his daughter to take penalty kicks in the last soccer game of her high school career because, down 3-1, he knew she could handle it if she failed. Well done as a youth sports dad to know your kid.

Your title makes you a manager, but your people will decide if you’re a leader.

Continue reading

Zapier. Amazing. Awesome. Thank you

I was reading a blog article about how to automate some blogging using the service Zapier. I immediately headed over to the site and used the free account to automate my biggest headache for AllTeamz.com, timely responses from emails sent via our Contact Us page.

I use a business account for Google apps and so I was able to create a Trigger for when an email was received from Contact Us and then a task that would then send an automatic response with what is essentially our FAQ posts. 95% of the time this answers any questions our customers might have and is great for them, as well as, me.

I immediately decided I could automate all of the tedious tasks I manage daily by building workflows. I am absolutely in love with this service.


Here are just some of the things I was able to do while automating the workflow for AllTeamz using Zapier.

I connected my MySQL database as one of my Connected Accounts. From this I was able to create automatic actions from newly inserted rows. Essentially, when a new customer signs up I am able to Create a new Tweet, Facebook Post, and an SMS automatically including information they just entered in our website to help publicize them to the social world.

 

Check out our newest organization who would love to have your child participate with them, Patriots Fastpitch in Sedalia, Mi.

Posted by AllTeamz on Monday, October 26, 2015

Needless to say, I am ecstatic. The teams on AllTeamz get the much needed push on social and I don’t have to do it manually. Also, I get texted when I get a new customer. Bravo!

Lastly, SumoMe. SumoMe is used for all kinds of dropin applications on your site from social plugins to welcome mats for capturing emails in your mailing list. SumoMe connects to Zapier from within the SumoMe app (free to use certain features) and then I use a Custom API post to send that captured data to Sendy. If you don’t know about Sendy, well again, another amazing app that lets you use Amazon SES to send marketing emails using your own hosting solution. Sending 10,000 marketing emails costs you about $1. Back to automation, Sendy sends an automated email to the subscriber who just signed up. I used to do this all manually, but no more.

Here are some helpful links to some of these badass apps. Need an assist? Leave it in the comments and I will help you out.

www.allteamz.com
www.zapier.com
www.sumome.com
www.sendy.co

Send Newsletter Emails for Free or close to it