7 Questions You Can Ask to Make the Most Out of Your Interview

Believe it or not, many times, the best way to show an interviewer you have done research on their company and industry is not through the answers you give, but through the questions you ask.

Here are 7 questions you should ask to be the most impressive job candidate

 What are the common attributes of your top performers?

You want to show them that you want to identify with, and be one of,  the top performers, not their worst.  Be sure to address their answer to this question with your matching skillsets either later in the interview, or in your follow up thank you letter.

 What are the one or two things that really drive results for the company?

This illustrates to the interviewer that you understand the position you are applying for fits into a bigger company picture.

 What do employees do in their spare time?

This question helps you gauge how you will fit in with the people working there.

How do you plan to deal with ___?

By addressing new, current issues within the industry, you show an awareness and understanding of the market. But be careful, if your interviewer doesn’t know the answer, they may become defensive.

 How do you measure success of the people currently in this position?

This question addresses how this company measures success rather than characteristics of successful people.  It shows that you plan on being successful so you want to know what the goals and matrixes are up front.

 What does a career path look like at this company?

This question conveys the idea that you are thinking long-term without flat out asking, “how long does it take to move up?”  It shows that you are thinking ahead and are prepared and expecting to be successful.

 I am really excited about this opportunity; what are the next steps?

This question will let them know your level interest, and also, let you know their timeline.

Adapted from “7 Questions You Should Ask to Be the Most Impressive Job Candidate” by Michael Sanders.  LinkedIn.




Varying Business Cultures

After taking a trip to Europe where I spent a month studying Business-Marketing, it quickly jumped out how different their style of doing business is.  Across the big pond, you find it easy to pinpoint the differences between the European and American business culture.  You never realize there is more than your way of doing things until you are fully emerged into a different culture.

Before engaging in business transactions with a country other than your own, you need to do your homework.  You can quickly find yourself in an awkward situation because so many different culture norms exist.  Not only is the European culture as a whole different than American culture, but there are many subcultures that exist as well.  Each European country has individual differences from one another, which is pretty crazy to wrap your head around, and even harder to remember what’s acceptable in one country and not in another.  If you don’t research the Do’s and Don’ts of different cultures, you can easily shake hands with someone which directly leads to offending them.  (The acceptable greeting might be a bow or nod) OR, what if you show up at a business meeting empty handed?  In some cultures it is unacceptable to show up without a gift or token of appreciation.  If you don’t know the basics, it  can really tarnish your reputation as a person, and more importantly as a company.

After returning home, I wanted to share some of the basic cultural differences that should be used when conducting business in another country.


i. In most European countries it is very important to be on time.Due to increased traffic on the roads, it is common for people to be delayed. Arriving late at a meeting can be regarded as an insult especially to the Chinese and Germans. In France, it is recommended to confirm appointments to be sure that the French business partners will be present.

ii. When European business people meet for the first time, they shake hands firmly. Titles, first names and last names are mentioned. In most European countries such as Germany, France and Belgium, using courtesy titles and last names during meetings is a norm; for example, Monsieur Miguel; Mdm Ute etc. In the UK and in the Netherlands, it is not unusual to act on a first-name basis after the first introduction.

iii. The Chinese will sometimes nod as an initial greeting. Bowing is seldom used. Handshakes are also popular; but you should wait for your Chinese counterpart to initiate the gesture.

iv. Exchanging business cards is one of the most internationally common ways of providing contact details.


Learning the culture of the company you want to do business with can make or break the deal.  Before traveling, always learn greetings, gestures, and understand the culture and etiquettes of delivering meetings in different countries.  Otherwise, it could cost you that deal you’ve been working on for months.

Waiting for Superman

Recently my young daughter has become rather fond of a metal Superman lunchbox that she found at a rummage sale.  She is too young to know who the Superman character is, but something about the lunchbox caught her attention, and the magic has yet to wear off.  His superpowers seem to have her transfixed….

Her infatuation with the man pictured on the lunchbox reminded me of the hunt for that ever-elusive “Superman candidate.”  As an owner or hiring manager, the image of a perfect candidate walking through the door is hard to resist.  A candidate with every imaginable skill we could ask for and experience in precisely the same industry and role that we are hiring for…..dreamy, right?

But when is the last time Superman walked through your front door?  The likelihood that there is a candidate that possesses every skill and could set right to work as soon as he or she logged on isn’t particularly high.  Adding in that what makes for a perfect candidate is a mixture of skill, experience, availability, personality, and cost – getting just the right combination is a tall order.  Assuming that candidate is out there, the chances they are in your geographic area, in your budget, and can be easily lured from their current employer are relatively slim.

So what do we do?  Do we just give up the dream that Superman will save us?  Not necessarily.

Rather than waiting infinitely for Superman, open the door for other possibilities with a little compromise.  Your superhero may have a little different blend.  Determine which pieces of the puzzle you can adjust….Do you have a little extra in your budget to increase the compensation or offer relocation?  Can you wait a few months for a great candidate to complete a current project?  Do you have the flexibility to train an enthusiastic and eager learner?

Whatever the combination is that suits your team and your business, be willing to seek out your own superhero.  Not every great candidate comes with superpowers and a cape, but if you are willing to look, you never know what might be hiding behind Clark Kent’s humble appearance.

The New Workforce: What They Want, What They Value, What It Means to You.

A new wave of potential employees has just entered the workforce.  Many employers like to take advantage of younger candidates for a variety of reasons, but are these candidate as interested in you as you are in them?

A 2014 study conducted by LinkedIn shows what these recent grads value in a job, and what industries are most enticing to them. 52% of 2014 graduates said that good work/life balance is one of the most important attributes of any potential career choice.  Compensation/benefits came in second with 48% and strong career path third with 46%.

On the other side, Long term vision of the company was one of the the least important factors to a new job seeker with 19%.  Flexible work arrangement and employer valuing employee contributions also capped the bottom of the list at 20% and 23% respectively.

When asked what company they would most want to work for, it was no surprise that Google and Apple topped the list.  What young, hip 23 year old wouldn’t want to work for one of the most innovative companies on the planet?

So what does all this mean to you, as an employer, and how can you compete with the appeal of Google and Apple?  Knowing what your future employees value is a great advantage for any employer.  It allows you to readjust your compensation and employment plans to meet those needs in order to gain qualified, satisfied people.

Also, knowing what they are looking for can help you hunt them down.  Of the top 10 companies new graduates would like to work for, 6 are technology related companies.  Working with recruiters who know the technology industry can help you gain exposure and traffic to whatever positions you have open.

At STL, we can place people in every position imaginable, but our experience in IT is what sets us apart.  From Sales to Engineer, Marketing to Developing, you don’t have to be a Technology company to utilize the expertise of our IT recruiters.  You might not be an Apple or Google, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use their appeal to your advantage.

For more information about how STL can help you in your recruiting needs visit us at www.poweredbystl.com or call 309-661-7851.

Are Your References Making Or Breaking Your Chances Of Landing Your Dream Job?

If you are on a job hunt, then you know how frustrating and complex searching and applying for a job can be.  In today’s wide world of recruiting, everyone has an opinion on what your resume should say, look like, and consist of.  But there are certain fundamentals that will help you turn those application into interviews and interviews into offers.

One of these fundamental components is references.  Because not all hiring managers require references, there is always a bit of ambiguity and confusion around references.  The fact of the matter is that employers utilize, and often times require, references for a very good reason.

References are the only way an employer can really know how you act, react, and interact while on the job. Let’s be honest, we all try to make ourselves look as good as possible on our resumes or in interviews.  So much so that exaggeration can sometimes take over.  References are a way for employers to get an objective opinion about you and your skills.

So, who should you have as a reference?  While I’m sure your mother would give you a glowing review, she might not be the best choice.  Keep your references to people who have known on a professional level, a former boss, employee or vendor.  You need someone who can and will validate all the amazing skills and abilities you have on your resume.  So, make sure you know your references would give you the very best review possible

The number one rule of selecting references, Ask For Permission!  The last thing you want is for them to be blind-sided by a call from a hiring manager and have absolutely nothing to say about you.  So, make sure you give them a heads up that you have listed them, and give them the opportunity to decline if they so choose.

A great compilation of references can help you land the job of your dreams. Make sure you are taking advantage of this great opportunity to enhance and highlight the skills and abilities you have listed on your resume.

RIP Nick Burns

Many of us remember Jimmy Fallon’s SNL character, Nick Burns: Your Company’s Computer Guy.  For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, (I strongly encourage you to watch now…Seriously, I’ll wait) Nick Burns was the ultimate computer nerd with the cocky attitude to match.  He even sported the stereotypical geek uniform: greasy hair parted down the side and combed down, giant glasses that covered his entire face, khaki flood water pants that strategically showed off his white gym socks, a thin short sleeve button up shirt, and multiple cell phones attached to his belt.  Each Nick Burns episode took place in an office environment with everyday workers experiencing IT problems that were common of the late 1990’s.  Once Nick Burns made his appearance in the scene, any and every problem that was presented to him was so easy for him to solve that he felt it necessary to point out how stupid the person was who asked it with a condescending, “MOVE!”  Armed with IT lingo and keyboard shortcuts only the pros would know, he tortured his co-workers by bombarding them with insults that they didn’t even really understand.  At the end of every sketch he would leave the room and pop his head back in and say, “Oh, by the way, You’re Welcome!!”

While this is a comical, over the top representation of a situation anyone who has ever worked in an office can relate to, the message behind it is all too accurate.  How many times have you put off asking your IT guy a question because you didn’t want to sound dumb or you were afraid the answer to said question would only raise more questions?  For this reason, many Managed IT Providers, like STL, are making more of a conscious effort to hire a support staff with a personality.  Meaning, no longer will you have to deal with computer lingo, acronyms, or attitudes.  Providing approachable, easy to understand support has become priority number 1 for many of these companies, and that means a more friendly IT support staff, employees who aren’t afraid to ask questions, and, ultimately, a more efficient work environment.

While Nick Burns was a great, funny character who made us all laugh because of his over the top representation of a familiar situation, it is time to put him to rest.   It is time to introduce a new breed of nerd; a geek with people skills. Your IT guy/gal should not be a person you fear, they should be a person to whom you feel comfortable asking questions.  They should be a person who can explain complex issues in an easy to understand language.  If your current IT support does do either of these things, perhaps it’s time to drop your “Nick Burns” and trade them in for a more 21st century model.


Oh, by the way, You’re Welcome!!!


QR Codes: The Good the Bad And the What Were They Thinking?

QR Codes.  What are they?  What do they do? Why should we use them?  Simply put QR Codes are links.  And, as most of us know, links are those handy dandy little things that direct people to the information we want them to see with minimal effort on their part.  So, QR Codes, along with their fancy readers, that are free on any smart phone, are a way for people to access a link on the go! 

When QR Codes are great…

They are great on business cards, newsletter, hand outs, flyers anything you may present to a potential client while they are not in front of a computer.  If you are at a trade show and you give someone your business card that has your website on it, Great.  But they won’t be able to access that site until they are in front of a computer.  With a QR Codes, the recipient can scan the code, and immediately be taken to your mobile friendly website.  Boom! They are in front of the information you want them to be in front of, getting to know your company and understanding all the services you offer in more depth than you could give them in a 30 second conversation. 

If you are offing a giveaway, QR Codes are great for immediately directing a participant to a site in which they can sign up.  Since you can control where the link takes them, you can also control what information they need to give in order to sign up.  Information you can use to create new ways of reaching them on a more personal level.

When QR Codes don’t make sense…

DO NOT send a QR Code in an email.  PSST, they’re already on the computer.  Just send a hyperlink.  Keep in mind – if the recipient of your email is reading said email on their phone….where the code reader is….with the camera on the other side of the phone…. You see where I’m going with this?

DO NOT put a QR Code on your vehicle or billboard.  If people can’t text and drive, they really shouldn’t scan and drive. I can see it now, “but officer, I was just trying to figure out how I could enter to win a brand new tablet.”      

DO NOT put a QR Code on EVERYTHING.  Like most great things in life, QR Codes need to be used in moderation.  If every piece of your marketing contains QR Codes, all you’ve told your potential clients is that you really, really like QR Codes. While staying up to date on technology is always a good thing, getting too immersed in one technology will have the opposite effect.   

You cannot assume everyone has a QR Code reader.  For one, you run the risk of sounding condescending.  No one wants to feel like they are out of the loop.  Secondly, if the majority of your target audience doesn’t have a reader, all you’ve done is wasted perfectly good marketing space with a goofy looking square. 

Advances in technology touch almost every aspect of business.  QR Codes are no exception. They are easy, they are catchy and they serve a valuable purpose when used correctly.  QR Codes are a great marketing tool that can give you the exposure you need, when you need it.  They are also tools that, if used incorrectly, can make you look like you have no idea what you are doing.  So, just remember, when using QR Codes, know your audience, use your head, and don’t go overboard.  

What If It Happens to You?

I think it is safe to say that that was an awful winter, weather-wise that is.  I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful it is FINALLY springtime.  The temperatures are rising and the birds are chirping.  We will be grilling out before we know it.  With all of this anticipation it is easy to forget about the downside of spring…Storm Season.


We all know that storms, with their strong winds and heavy rains, can wreak havoc on your physical property, but what would happen if your most valuable property were damaged…Your Data!  Suffering the loss of your physical business can be devastating and cost you thousands.  However, losing your data could cost you everything. If your day to day operations were affected by the loss of data, for how long would your business survive?


If this question sparks interest or even fear in your mind, you’re not alone.  With the season upon us, many business owners are asking themselves, “Am I prepared?” At STL, we help people like you answer those questions! We are equipped to help you prevent the loss of your data and ensure that your business will be able to operate should the unthinkable happen to you……Now that’s cool.


Click here to hear the story of a business that was prepared for the worst when the worst happened.  http://www.poweredbystl.com/VideoPlayer.aspx?VID=41


Connecting a passion

There are things I’m a passionate believer in…. like making a difference and striving for continuous improvement especially where a customer experience is involved. For me these concepts are all related, and they tie back to a simple message from my grandparents… to leave this place better than we found it. Such a simple yet versatile message. I/we can use it as a guidepost in business, socially, and toward community affairs.

In business we often casually connect it to the notion of a Customer Service experience. Yet, customer service seems to be the most elusive of meaningful goals for so many businesses despite the wisdom of ages coaching us relentlessly along the path. We all know the Golden Rule. Do we get too busy to express care about each other… about our customers? I know we do care of course; it’s the “why” that compliments “what” we do. Maybe that’s message number two … “don’t take anything for granted”. All honorable values and pursuits and leadership opportunities.

So, I’m curious… we’ve all had those delightful experiences as customers. Some were spontaneous, and some seem to fit into a persistent design or formula. I’d like to hear from people who have been delighted, to hear the stories and to understand why they are special. We can help each other, and create a path to make a difference not just in business, but socially… and as a lifestyle. We can leave this place better than we found it, and I suspect that we can have a lot of fun doing it too.

Weigh in …. please!

LMGTFY – KeePass to the Rescue

Bill Cosby used to have a great bit about “Kids say the darndest things.”  It was fun.  Kids really do say some great stuff.

In the IT world, I think it would be easy to accomplish a similar show:  Users do the funniest things.  Over the past several years, I have worked with some very smart users and there are some awesome stories.

But for all their smarts, many people still do not so smart things with their passwords.  They put them in a spreadsheet on their computer’s desktop – usually called Passwords.xls  Or they put them in a sticky note on their desktop (Yes, an electronic sticky note).  They write them down on a piece of paper under their keyboard.

About 2 years ago a really talented network engineer suggested I try out Keepass.  I only kind of heard what he said and couldn’t find KeyPass anywhere, so I called back for clarification.  He laughed at me on speakphone and then sent me a “Let Me Google That For You” link to the tool.  It has changed my world.  I actually have good passwords now, instead of weak ones.  I can actually find them when I need them.  And I have a warm fuzzy about my person process (something another really smart person told me about).

I want you to get two things from this story (and maybe a third).

1.  Keepass is awesome for tracking passwords.  If you aren’t using it, look into it.

2.  You learn a great deal from being around smart people.  If you aren’t spending time with smart people, you might think about your “friending” policies.

3.  And for those truly listening, LMGTFY is very useful.

Marketing Pressure

Have you heard all this talk about BLE(Bluetooth Low Energy)?  Does it scare you? Or do you think it’s super cool?

These transmitters can be placed anywhere and they connect to and track folks who are using Bluetooth technology.  Using micro geo-targeting is the new way for companies to push you over the edge and make you give in to buying that extra box of cereal you didn’t need.  BLE pushes an ad to your phone that offers you a deal on the very items you happen to be standing right next to. If you are walking down the cereal aisle in Meijer, it would pull up your purchasing history, see that you bought the package of cheerios, and immediately recommend that you buy the multi-grain cheerios along with a 2 for 1 coupon.  This marketing technique is mind blowing!  Ingenious! Totally Awesome!

The whole micro-location trend is going to be HUGE for businesses who can strategize ways to leverage this technology and use it to their benefit. With that said, companies also need to tread carefully to make sure they do not overwhelm consumers and get too “minority report-ish”.  Consumers often times get freaked out about this kind of targeting, and are extra cautious about falling into these marketing schemes….often times it can be related back to giving in to peer pressure.  Why not buy that extra box of Cheerios? Everybody else is doing it!

These new marketing techniques blow my mind.  But with that being said, how long will it be until consumers build a resistance to “marketing pressure?”  We were taught growing up to be extra cautious of peer pressure…..I think now it’s extra important to be just as cautious of “marketing pressure.”

Spread the Love

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  And in the spirit of this holiday – I’d like to remind everyone to spread the love!

In relation to your job search, spreading the love is as simple as a “Thank you!”  If you really want to impress a recruiter, HR Director, hiring manager, or potential future co-worker, take the time to send a “Thank you” note after your interview.  This can be as formal as a hand-written note sent through snail mail, or as simple as a well phrased, succinct “Thank you” note sent via email.  It will only take a few minutes of your time, but will leave a lasting impression on a prospective employer.

On a grander scale – today is a great day to spread the love to those around you.  Whether or not you may have a significant other, there are easy ways to celebrate this holiday that doesn’t include chocolates and flowers.  Spread the love by sharing a smile or opening the door for someone.  Spreading the love doesn’t have to involve romantic overtures – just a spread a little kindness to those around you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  And happy job hunting!

How smart are you with your smartphone?

In an age where we are plugged in at an ever increasing rate, we use our phones and other mobile devices to do almost everything – from buying a cup of coffee to balancing your budget.  We use these devices to stay connected in every way possible – social networking, email, texting, and even a phone call or two.

With the introduction of smartphones into the world of job hunting, you can now search for new positions from just about anywhere.  You no longer have to sit by the phone at home waiting for the hiring manager to return your call. You now can respond to email inquiries and even complete job applications right from your phone.

However, with this great convenience, comes the necessity to remember that ALL of your correspondence with a potential employer is important.  Just because you are replying from your phone does not mean it should be any less formal or professional than responding from your desktop.  Remember, a prospective employer is not your brother or best friend, so don’t text them as if they were.

Your emails, texts, or other electronic correspondence should be courteous, succinct, and of a formal nature.  One word responses, emoticons, improper grammar and incorrect spelling are all inappropriate when communicating with someone that could be your future boss.

You want to put your best foot forward, so be smart about what you are sending from that smartphone.


Gen X.  Gen Y.  Millennials.

Did you grow up playing an Atari 2600 or was it more of a DS for you?  Skinny ties, or wide ties?  Do you know who Alex P Keaton is?  Do you understand things like HIMYM or YOLO or FOMO? These are all markers of which generation you are from.  [Here is a great video on people figuring these things out - adult language warning]

These groups have very different perspectives on the world.  They came of age with different expectations on them.  And they have developed different expectations from organizations they join.

This is a great article on the topic…..  It is a gross generalization, and yet it resonates with some.  I won’t repeat it here, but the stuff below assumes you’ve read it.

For me, a big difference is the sprint vs marathon mentality.  The event horizon and the level of effort within a period is distinct.  There is one mentality that says “I can knock this out of the park in the next week with amazing effort and passion” and another that says “we have to go slow and make sure we plan for the 5 or 10 year long term impacts of this effort.”  Both provide value, in different ways.  The sprinter is amazing with how much they can accomplish in a short period of team, easily surpassing and humiliating the marathoner.  You can hear it now – “I’ve been running for 20 years and this little so and so just crushed me in the 100 yard dash.  What gives?”

And it has management implications too – if you misalign your criteria for runners with the actual goals of the organization you end up with amazing flashes of brilliance, or so many long term plans nothing gets accomplished.  Neither is a good scenario.  If you only use the 100 yard dash results as your measuring stick, your track team won’t win many meets.  If you only use 13.1 as your guiding principle of excellence, you are likely to see very few medals in the 200 yard dash.

The goal of a solid manager is to assemble a diverse team filling multiple needs and complementing the needs of the organization.  It isn’t about one or the other.  It is about the value both bring to the table.  There are two key mistakes a manager can make:

  • Over praising the millennials (devaluing the previous generation) and eating away the morale of the previous generation.
  • Under valuing the millennials alternative approach to addressing tasks.  Just because something has been done a particular way for years does not mean there is no room for improvement.  Harnessing the passion and energy of the young go getters is essential to success.  And so is stability and predictability.

Generational diversity is an asset, not a liability.

Eco-friendly Data Centers ARE possible.

Did you know we love Planet Earth just as much as you?

We strive to make the world a better place, and take drastic measures to lower our Carbon footprint.  Having an eco-friendly data center IS possible….keep reading to figure out how!

At C9D, our approach is double sided: we are working to make our existing products and processes more   efficient for both the environment and for business, while also developing   new innovations that can help drive operational improvements and lessen environmental impact.

Our newly constructed datacenter has been built to Tier-3 standards to help reduce it’s ecological footprint.   This state of the art facility is a below-grade hardened bunker designed to   offer maximum security and system availability. We offer solutions to fit a   wide variety of tailored mission profiles while staying ecologically   friendly. We use hot aisle containment which reduces cooling expenses while   maximizing our airflow dynamics. It allows utilization of in-row cooling   technology, which provides greater cost and energy savings compared to   traditional forced air. This system is predesigned by data center   professionals to provide a safe, predictable environment. Our data center is built into a below grade bunker and uses ultra high density which allows for   electricity efficiency. Using an automatic lighting system, our building   practices power savings by ensuring lights shut on and off as someone leaves and enters the building. This data center design offers maximum protection   while protecting the Earth’s environment.




Using your iPhone as a business tool.

Why do you like/dislike your Smart Phone for business?

For me, this question has many answers to it.  There are so many Pros, yet so many Cons to having everything we need right in front of us. While I’ll make it clear that focusing solely on your phone is a recipe for disaster, a business plan that lacks appreciation for smart phones is also likely to be doomed.


At this point in history, technology and business go hand in hand together, and those not trained to evaluate and make decisions in this ever-shifting space risk irrelevance, marginalization, and failure.


We’re living in a generation of “information overload.”  Anything we want to know is at the tip of our fingertips on our smart phones…all we have to do is look up a question on our favorite search engine, or just ask “Siri” to do it for us and BOOM-we have the answer!  Whether it’s an answer from a credible source or not, that’s an entirely different topic saved for another day.


In the sense of having a smart phone for business, having everything you need in the palm of your hands is one of the perks.  E-mail is accessible, Telephone and Facetime calls can be made, your Calendar is adjustable, and even some aspects of your banking can be done via your iPhone thanks to apps.  Having one device control a large amount of your activities can be great….especially a device that is small, lightweight, and transportable.  It’s very handy, and that what it was designed for.


Having this device with all of your information can also overwhelm you at the same time.  Being informed with more information than you were asking for can wear you out.  Constantly being spammed with e-mails, looking at your calendar and realizing you have too many meetings to attend, and having your phone ring off the hook makes it very hard to get actual work done. There’s not enough time in the day to stay on top of every little thing your smart phone alerts you of.


But, hear me out when I say this–It’s OK to put your phone down for a while, breathe in, breathe out, and get some work done.  Life is too short to let technology steal our time.  Technology was never intended to be the bad guy.  Balance your time, and use technology as an organization tool.  If you use it the right way, there is no reason to be overwhelmed.


Like we expressed earlier, smart phones are a great tool to compliment your business plan;  They can help us out in so many ways.  But, if we focus solely on our phones, we aren’t likely to get much work done.

Take advantage of the “Do Not Disturb” button, and just remember…there is not enough hours in a day, and not enough days in our life to waste away our time on smart phones.  Time is of the essence, so put all aside remember work comes before play.



Check out our blog from a few years back…..same thoughts expressed in different words!


Illinois vs Wisconsin–The Difference Between Two Neighboring States

Did you know there are more STL locations than just their corporate office in Bloomington, IL? After a recent business trip up to our offices in Appleton and Green Bay, WI it occurred to me how so very different the two states of Wisconsin and Illinois are.  


The first two differences are obvious: the colder weather in Wisconsin, and their northern accents.  We all know that the weather of Wisconsin is a tad more extensive…..when it’s not spring, it’s winter. And when it’s winter, it’s not just cold….it’s freezing. Leaving a heated location seems crazy during the months of October-April.  The next obvious difference is the steep northern accent they speak with. Up Nort’ dem bubblers are popular…..ya know?  But we can get over that part.


As I was flying north for the visit to the offices, the main difference I noticed was the contour of the land and the density of its population.    The hills of Wisconsin make the flat land of Illinois look extremely boring.  You look down at the land of Wisconsin and see a variation of sights, but when looking down at Illinois you see the same square plots of farmland.


After looking at the farmland, you realize that all of the populated areas in Illinois are very spread out.  Every 50-100 miles you will see small towns populating a small area which leaves room for a whole lot of open fields in between each town.  When flying over Wisconsin, that is not the case.  Wisconsin is populated in small towns all throughout the state.  All of these towns are closely connected throughout the state and you don’t often fly over “wide-open spaces.”  If it is an open space in Wisconsin, it is usually populated with trees; not fields of farmland. 


After observing the land, I decided to research the population and see if my conclusion was correct.  Is the state of Wisconsin more populated throughout the state in comparison to Illinois?  My conclusion on Wisconsin being a more dense state was partially correct.  Illinois and Wisconsin are roughly the same size. Illinois with 56, 343 square miles and Wisconsin with 56,145 square miles.  (http://www.theus50.com/area.php)   But, their populations were very shocking.  Illinois has a much larger population because of Chicago.  Cook County as a whole has 5.21 million people while Wisconsin as a state has 5.76 million people. 


Chicago and it’s surrounding areas (alone) have roughly the same population as the state of Wisconsin.  Because of Chicago’s high concentration of people in one area, it leaves the rest of Illinois sparsely populated.  


I learned a lot more than “business” on the recent trip I took up to our Wisconsin offices.  It’s crazy how there can be such a difference between two neighboring states. Between the contours of the land, the accent of the people, or the general weather: you are bound to see differences.    Come visit us up North and see for yourself!


Illinois vs wisconsin

Just get to the point…

Did you know 89 million people in the United States are going to watch 1.2 billion online videos today? (ComScore)  Not this month, or this week.  Today.  How we watch videos today is very different than how we watched videos years or even months ago.  The length and use of video is rapidly changing, and capturing the attention span of users is now harder than ever before.


Eight years ago YouTube uploaded its first video.  This 19 second video spiked a revolution, and by July of 2006 more than 65,000 videos were uploaded to the site every day.  YouTube became the hot spot for media-seekers where you could find videos anywhere from a few seconds long to a few hours long.  These long videos took hours to soak in, and you could waste 60 minutes of your time trying to find the information you came for.  Users got tired of wasting their time, and attention span started to shrink.


Now, the end-user realizes how valuable their sweet time is.  Did you know, with today’s environment of online video, you only have 20 seconds to capture your viewer?  It’s crazy talk to think that Vine, Twitter’s 6-second video sharing app only opened its doors in January of 2013.  This app has already exploded to tens of millions of users.  People like the idea of short, to-the-point videos where they can get a wide ranging set of information in a short amount of time. More information; less time?  It’s too good to be true, it sounds like those insane infomercial knives that cut through cans.   So, does that make Vine’s six-second videos the perfect balance between Instagram’s single images and YouTube’s long videos? Only time can tell.


It is said that over two thirds of the world’s data will be in video by 2017.  The success of these sites all depend on the length of the video, and the ability to keep the attention span of the user.  What we are finding in recent research is the shorter the video, the better!   Only the best sites will capture our attention and connect us with the content we need.  In 12 months, there will most likely be yet another platform with yet another paradigm – keep up or miss out on the next viral snapshot of life.