Is BP doing very good PR with containment?

I’m not talking about containing the huge, rapidly expanding oil slick that is going to do severe damage to the fishery at the mouth of the Mississippi River.  I’m talking about the backlash against BP.

Heck, there isn’t even a backlash, if you look at the media coverage, I would swear that this spill was by Exxon. Don’t believe me?  Check out the front page of The Drudge Report:

Front page of on April 30, 2010

See any mention of BP who operated the rig that caught fire, burned and is spilling oil? Or TransOcean LTD that owns it? Think that’s an isolated example? Check out the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Take a look at that article. Exxon is mention in the third paragraph. Do you see mention of BP? They are mentioned, along with TransOcean, three paragraphs later. Online this is below the first screen, and in print, it was on the next page jump. In other words, WHERE NO ONE READS IT!

My question here is why?  Why is Exxon being pilloried again?  Want to string someone up? Get BP on the gallows, but leave Exxon out of this one.

PS – thanks to Holland for the kick to write this post


Is it just me or is the new Honda Crosstour a retread of the AMC Eagle of our youth?

One of the teachers at my elementary school had an AMC Eagle, that strange crossbreed of station wagon and Jeep Wagoneer. It was a strange beast, the car, not the teacher, that I thought had passed its time in America. I was wrong.  I’ve been seeing several Honda Crosstours around and they looked strangely familiar. Now I know why.

First a TV spot for the AMC Eagle:

Now, the “new Honda Crosstour:

Is it just me or are the commercials even similar?

This is how innovation works – diagnosing diabetes with cell phone cameras

Why would you use a cell phone camera to diagnose diabetes and other potentially debilitating diseases? Apparently symptoms of diabetes and hypertension are visible in blood vessels in the eyes.

Why am I writing about this? A team of graduate students from UC Davis was just awarded a prize in “the Imagine Cup contest, sponsored by Microsoft, (that) asks students to use Microsoft technology to help solve a problem identified by the United Nations – in this case, the health of children in developing countries.”

“With phones running the team’s software, a trained person can take a picture or video of a child’s eye and transmit the image to a server that runs tests to determine if the child is likely to have diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. Symptoms of those disorders are visible in close-up pictures of blood vessels in the eye.

After the tests are performed on the images, the software sends a text message back to the phone, allowing the person in the field to make a more detailed diagnosis.”

This is so cool.  One of the most interesting parts of the article, Wilson To, the team leader, is a graduate student in veterinary medicine.

Read the whole article by Laurel Rosenhall and follow her on Twitter @laurelrosenhall

Know your history – Clarksville Day May 8

We live in one of the most historically rich areas of California. The gold discovery that kicked off the California Gold Rush is 15 miles from our house, and we are surrounded by other pieces of history.  One of them is less than a mile from my office and I drive by it every day on the way to work. Never heard of Clarksville?

Some great pictures of Clarksville are on Flickr, including these by Don Chaddock from the Folsom Telegraph.

Clarksville is now on private property and only open once a year for Clarksville Day.  We went last year and had a great time. Recommend you check it out and learn a little about where you live, and have a good time with the kids.

Collecting Money As a Small Business

This post should go into the things I wish I knew more about when I started my own company four years ago file.  The reason we work is to earn money. If you’re not getting paid, you’re volunteering. Volunteering is noble and something I do regularly, but unfortunately it doesn’t pay the mortgage.

The Wall Street Journal just wrote an article about freelancers and small businesses that have trouble getting paid. It’s a good read for anyone, whether you run your own business or not.

I’ve been lucky in that the vast majority of my clients have been very good about paying on time. There have been a few instances, where it’s taken a little while, but we have had to write off very little that has been completely lost.  A few of the things I’ve learned along the way, that would have helped out in those instances include:

  • Include attorney fees provision in all contracts, so that if you have to sue it will be worthwhile (we haven’t had to yet);
  • If you invoice monthly, require first month’s payment before you begin work (I found sometimes that on short-term contracts i.e. three months, the term would be completed before we had been paid at all);
  • If your gut says to be worried, require at least half of the total payment up front;
  • Be flexible and ready to deal, sometimes something now is better than nothing ever; and
  • Don’t be afraid to contact multiple sources at a company with whom you have an outstanding receivables.

It’s OK to talk about money. It’s why we work.

Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

On March 1, I posted a story about how my internship turned into a job.  That story included mention of , one of our clients, which opened their doors that day.

Since then, the question of paid vs unpaid internships has gotten very heated following a crackdown by the US Labor Department regarding unpaid interns.

Our client wrote an open letter on the topic of paid vs unpaid internships where he took a stand saying that “our students are capable of making a free will choice,” when deciding the best way to further their careers and education.

Those comments were included in a column today by the Washington Post.

If you’re looking for an internship, an intern or just want to help a college student’s experiential education, check out

The complete text of the letter from Robin D. Richards is below:

Open Letter on Paid Versus Unpaid Internships from Chairman and CEO Robin D. Richards

Paid vs. Unpaid
That is not the question.

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Access to opportunity is for some almost an entitlement, but for the vast majority of Americans access to opportunity results from hard work and ingenuity.

The harder you work, the more ingenious you are, the luckier you get. The view that the government needs to regulate and protect our college students from the possibility of corporations seeking to take unfair advantage, I believe, is based on good intentions. However, in this case these intentions may be misplaced.

The American college student is sufficiently sophisticated, strategic and ambitious. Upward mobility is a uniquely American ideal. Anything is possible with education, preparation, hard work, ambition and access.

This issue of paid vs. unpaid is not an issue of fairness as some want you to believe, it is an issue of choice and free will. Statistics from 2007/20081 show that two out of three students who secure internships are offered full-time employment from the very company that gave them the internship. The marketplace has always been the great equalizer. If a company posts an internship that is unpaid and another posts one that is paid, the student will vote with their application. Our students are very capable of making a free will choice. If they believe an unpaid internship will result in a better path toward their chosen profession, then America’s best and America’s most ambitious will have a chance to craft and execute their competitive strategy towards getting a full time job after college.

The way many of the students from the 3,900+ colleges and universities not considered elite compete with students from the elite institutions is not on paper but in the actual working environment. They show their value live. We as a country do not need to constrain ingenuity and hard work and free choice with legal roadblocks. The approach of reducing options and choice will hurt the very group this well intended position is trying to protect.

At the end of the day, choice is the foundation to both our economy and our great democracy. Students today are well equipped to make this choice without our collective intervention.

Robin D. Richards
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

1 National Association of Colleges and Employers 2009 Experiential Education Survey