Mike Grehan says...

Random musings about search marketing, flying around the planet, networking and people watching.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Paradise lost (and found every weekend I'm at home).

They say that, what you dream about tells a lot about you. I think I must dream about all the usual guy things (except football) but there's one recurring dream I have on the road. And that's about being in my local pub. It's sad, I know. I should be dreaming about pole dancing girls and lap dancing girls (I often wonder why it is that Polish girls and those from Lapland are so big on dancing?). But no, apart from the frequent interruption of a hyperlink based algorithm, I dream about the pub!

It's the perfect haven for me on a Sunday afternoon, when a few pints of Guinness and traditional English roasts for lunch, are the order of the day.

Of all the places I go on the planet, this is right up there with the best of them. Yes, it's my local!

And this, is my son Joe, following the downing of a huge lunch of roast lamb and Yorkshire puddings, posing for what he felt would be a sympathetic photo for my blog :-)

And no, he didn't really drink it. He's only sixteen and not allowed ;-)

SES Latino, Miami.

I worry that, I'm not actually blogging. Nor am I keeping a diary for that matter. These days, everything is a retrospective look at the personal side of my life which runs along side the business.

On that subject, I've been asked a number of times at conferences why I don't have a business blog, just personal. And a little light bulb appears when I tell them: Our business blog is Search Engine Lowdown and it's edited by Garrett French. So there's no point in us both blogging the same stuff. I have made the odd little contribution to Garrett's company blog. And he's made the odd personal contribution to mine.

Think about it this way. Danny Sullivan has a personal blog here and the official Search Engine Watch blog is here the content, of course, is very different on both sites. But every now and again there is a little cross-over.

So, the point is... you want to know if I was drinking San Miguel somewhere this week? Stay here. You want to know what's happening in SEM news and events? Go here

By the way, if you're not subscribed to Danny's blog feed then you should be. He has some very valid opinions and observations on a lot more than just search. Whereas, I just talk about wine and beer :-)

Okay, I understand that there's a headline at the top screaming SESLatinoooooooo!

I got into Miami a little early... just by a day! Having travelled from Hong Kong to LA and then on to Miami, it was a very, very long journey and it was almost 11.00 pm by the time I checked in.

There was some confusion at the hotel about my booking when I arrived. But all I could say was, please give me a room or I'll go to sleep right here on the reception counter. So a room was arranged, duly.

The following day, I woke a little later (as one does at the weekend) and rang my wife whom I hadn't spoken to for quite some time. "What are you ding today after that gruelling journey," she asked. I told her I'll have a little chill and maybe work some later. "What are you doing today" I asked.

"I'm at work" she replied. What in earth was my wife doing at work on a Saturday I wondered. So I asked her. "Michael" she said (she always calls me by my Sunday name) "today is Friday." This really threw me. So I went to the bedroom door, pulled the USA Today paper off the handle and... sure enough it was Friday's date!

Of course, you IDIOT! You gained a day on the way - not lst one. No wonder they couldn't check you in last night. Doh!

Jet-lag, that wonderful feeling of numbness while drifting through white fluffy clouds. It's a little like some very powerful cigarette I smoked at...

I watched the world cup final on Lincoln Road, North Beach. This is a great street full of bars, restaurants, cafes and stores which rolls right down to the beach. Of an evening, it's a wonderful place to stroll, take in the atmosphere and meet strangely exotic scantily clad women.

Anyway, hats off to nacho Hernandez and Stewart Quealy for pulling together a splendid little show that has HUGE potential for the future.

The show also provided an excellent opportunity to get together with Barbara Coll (I moderated a panel she was speaking on) and have dinner with her and mutual friends.

Of course, people think that because we had a little run-in some time ago that we're mortal enemies. But that's certainly not the way I see it. So I was surrounded at dinner by some of the finest in the SEO female contingent. What did we talk about? The fact that I was the only one without breasts, and putting together a rationale on why I should have some (too sexually explicit for repeat here).

Here's myself, Jessie Strichiola, Barbara Coll and my big buddy, Christine Churchill.

On the final day of the show, I got together with some friends on the plaza level by the pool for a few farewell beers. Here's (from the left) Christine Churchill, Danny Sullivan, you-know-who, Brad Geddes, Jessie Strichiola and Mr Party Animal himself, Joe Morin.

Best of luck to Nacho for the next show. I think it's going to be huge.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Whoops, blogging backwards you can forget things. Almost forgot to mention smething else in between e-Consultancy and Hong Kong.

Online Marketing Europe.

This is a fairly new conference. And this year it was held in the beautiful city of Palma de Mallorca. Actually, in the UK we spell it Majorca. It's pronounced the same though.

Majorca is a favourite island of mine. When I was a kid my parents took me there every year for a vacation. So I know it very well. Michael Douglas lived there with his previous wife and still has a place that he and Katherine use for holidays.

The conference was very small and quiet. I think it needs a lot of work before it really gets off the ground. The venue was wonderful, but even at lunch time the bar was empty.

I did get to spend some time with my friends from Your Amigo. As an Australian outfit, they seem to get everywhere. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one crossing so many time zones. If you don't know about their technology, you should check it out, it's very, very neat. SEO on a stick, in fact.

I took a long weekend while I was there to catch up with some of my childhood memories. It was a dirty job. But somebody had to do it. And my patron saint, Saint Miguel, helped all along the way :-)

Hong Kong Vs San Francisco.

I have a major new love affair going on in my life. I have fallen in love with the city of Hong Kong. Perhaps one of the most eclectic mixes of people and most vibrant cities on the planet.

I don't wish to be unfaithful to San Francisco, which has long been my favourite place to hang. But Hong Kong is an oriental enticer which has seduced people from all parts of the globe to go and live there. And I simply adore it!

We came to Hong Kong this time via head office in Raleigh and a trip into Asheville, NC. My partner Jim Banks and I were on a global business trip which would have us visiting the US, Hong Kong, China and in Jim's case also Mumbai, India. At the Mumbai point, I would peel off and head to Los Angeles and then on to Miami for SES Latino.

After a gruelling 15 hour flight from New York to Hong Kong, we checked into the wonderful Renaissance Hotel. The view from my window was a joy to behold!

After being locked in a plane for so many hours, the call of the pool was loud. This is a wonderful complex with Renaissance and Grand Hyatt sharing the 12th floor plaza. It truly is an oasis in the sky. Way above the noisy Hong Kong streets.

Of course, on the Saturday I was all decked out ready for England's glorious defeat of Portugal... er... yeah... next!

Fortunately, my patron saint, Saint Miguel, from Majorca, was very present in Hong Kong!

It was so funny when it started to pour down at the pool. I mean within seconds the heavens just opened and down it came. And then, wait for this the waiters came dashing out with umbrellas! People wearing bathing costumes ready for a swim, standing in the rain with umbrellas. Is there something wrong with this picture :-)

In Hong Kong, much as China, they love a parade. And the first weekend I was there on this trip (last weekend) it was the 9th anniversary of the handing over of Hong Kong from the British to the Chinese. Definitely a time to get your dragon costume out!

I took the famous Star ferry over to the Kowloon side and took a few shots. Here's a nice one of the Star ferry going in the opposite direction.

This is a shot of the convention center in Hong Kong from Kowloon.

And I love this shot of our office building, just behind IFC2, the tallest building in the land!

And the big news is?

Jim and I flew to Xiamen again to meet with Inway NI. We agreed upon a letter of intent to start a joint venture with Inway's company, the fastest growing internet marketing company in China.

We visited their Xiamen corporate headquarters and then popped the cork of my favourite shampoo to celebrate. This a really big deal.

Here you can see Jim Banks, myself, my dear friend Inway and his associates RQ and John. Inway is also the JV partner with SES in China. He's a very smart guy ;-)

And that's it for now. I'm on board a 747 heading for Los Angeles and then on to Miami for SES Latino.

New media knowledge & e-Consultancy.

I moderated a pretty lively session at the Content 2.0 conference in London. And also presented a keynote at the e-Consultancy "What's new in internet marketing" conference.

There were some excellent presentations on the day.

Certainly one of my favourites was from blogger extraordinaire, B L Ochman. I've met BL a few times at ad:tech and we've exchanged hellos. But this time, not only did I get to meet her properly and have a conversation, I actually dropped my pants!

In fact, not only did I drop my pants I completely stripped and dressed again. Fortunately, BL was good enough to keep her eyes averted concentrating on her laptop in the presenter ready room. This, by the way, was the only place at the venue I could get out of my suit and into something casual before I headed to the airport.

Thanks BL, and if you ever feel the need to undress while I'm around... er... next subject :-)

Of course, I took a picture of the audience, who minutes before were scratching their heads and pondering over what compacted content Vs non compacted content was all about.

BL seemed to think a picture of the audience was a good idea, so she took one also. Neither of us knew that there was someone in the audience making entirely different pictures!
SES London.

Talk about retro-blogging!

I can't believe it's so long since I last had a chance to post something. In fact, I'm back in Hong Kong and just about to head to Miami for SES Latino. And the last post I made was actually about the opening of the Hong Kong office.

Since my last post about six weeks ago, I've circumnavigated the planet once again and presented at four or five conferences and workshops in between.

Of course, the big UK search marketing show, SES London took place the week I returned from the Hong Kong office opening.

Once again the UK's finest got together in London for another excellent show. I don't quite know what it is, but the London show feels different to any other SES. I don't think it's just because it's in a much different type of environment than the other shows, there seems to be something a little more reserved about the audience, I think.

Maybe I'm just too used to presenting to my American cousins. Always with a hand in the air waiting to be heard.

SES London, for the past two shows has taken place at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. The venue itself is nice because it's different. But the adjacent Hilton Hotel is perhaps one of the worst I've stayed in. However, these days I'm very much just "gimme a broadband connection and a bed" when it comes to hotels. Which is a good job for them. Believe me, when it comes to service there's enough to complain about!

You can see from the shot below that it's a very different type of venue in London.

I was very pleased to see my buddy Rand Fishkin at the London show. There's no doubt in my mind that he's one of the most knowledgeable guys in this space. He was delighted when I told him that he had beaten my company in a pitch for a small account around his neck of the woods. Although I wasn't personally involved in the pitch, I have to say I certainly don't mind the company losing to Rand. That should teach us a lesson and put our guys back on their toes!

I sent Rand off to Venice with a description of the finest restaurant they have in that wonderful city. The only thing I couldn't tell him was the actual name of the place. I also recommended that he head to Lake Como after his visit to Milan, for a chill day. I'm sure a lake is easier to find just by description than a restaurant is :-)

I also met up with my dear, dear, very dear friend, Jill Whalen. It's been a long time since I last interviewed Jill. Four years, in fact. So we decided it would be a good idea to get together for a good old catch-up podcast. The day before this, I finished an interview with Andrew Goodman which started last year when my wife and I spent a little time with Andrew and his wife at a beautiful lakeside cottage in Canada.

However, immediately following my interview with Andrew, I interviewed the legendary Mikkel de mib Svendsen. Which, I then stupidly saved right over the top of my interview with Andrew.

Wait - it gets worse!

So, Jill and I and a crowd have a very late night in the hotel bar. Much Merlot is consumed and Jill and I have a brilliant idea: let's do the interview now.

So we sit down and have a very lengthy chat about search with a few bursts of hilarity mixed in for good measure. Interview complete, I then save it right over the top of Mikkel's file!

Not finished yet. To make things even worse, I listened to the one remaining interview in the morning. Jill and I were so drunk that, even though there were a few splendid moments during the interview, the bulk of it is virtually X rated due to more than a smattering of the f word from me and some very thinly veiled innuendo which crept in from time-to-time!

Needless to say, it's only very close friends who will get to hear that one!

Here's Jill being grilled.

I did my usual link building basics session at SES and yes, here's the audience. Better late than never, I suppose.

The final night of the show saw a crowd of us do the traditional last night dinner. I took us all to a wonderful Italian restaurant. And just as the check arrived in front of me, dear Andrew Goodman swooped in and picked it up. Thanks for that Andrew. Very kind of you considering I feel like such an idiot about the interview!

So here's the farewell group. Ammon Johns has his back to the camera, you can only see the top of Jim Boykin's head (his cap) and Jill is hiding Matt Paine. Andrew Goodman is at the far end of the shot sitting next to Anne Kennedy and I'm squeezed between her and the wonderful Rebecca Lieb. Dixon Jones is at the front of the shot on the left. And I simply cannot remember the name of the guy next to him. My dear friend Amanda Watlington was also with us on the night. However, she seems to have somehow made herself invisible.

The following day Matt Paine called my room as he'd very kindly offered to give me a lift to Heathrow. I was so looking forward to going home as I've seen so little of it this year. And I only had the weekend before I had to head off again.

Due to an anti terrorist operation taking place in London, as well as a major procession going on, it took an age to get out of the city. And so it was that I missed my flight!

There were no other flights until late Saturday night and it was only lunch time. I decided to take the train and headed back to the city on the Heathrow Express, which took exactly 15 minutes to take me back to exactly where I had started with Matt.

Worse to come. There were no trains directly to my city that day. So I took a train a coach and a taxi, eventually ending up at home at 8.00 in the evening. Not Matt's fault at all. But next time - I'll pass on a lift and just take the Heathrow Express!