Ancestry.com “Thrilled” With New Genealogy Startups

The Salt Lake Tribune published this interesting article two days ago:

Utah-based Ancestry.com, with 900,000 subscribers the reigning king of commercial Internet genealogy services, welcomes Geni.com and a spate of other online family history newcomers to its world.
“For years, we were the only ones driving growth in this category,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Generations, which owns Ancestry.com, MyFamily.com and related sites.
“So when we see Geni or any number of new genealogy upstarts, we’re thrilled,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan maintains that once someone gets interested on online family study, “they eventually will make their way to Ancestry.com” and its 23,000 online databases of births, deaths, baptisms, military service, censuses and more.
The 9-year-old Ancestry.com family also offers a number of free services to Web visitors, among them its One World Tree.
More than 1 million user-generated pedigrees have been uploaded to Ancestry.com in the past month, and 170 million names and 500,000 photos have been added to online records over the past six months.
“People can go to Ancestry.com and build family trees, invite their family members to upload photos and precious stories and documents – and all of those experiences are free,” Sullivan added.

I share Tim’s opinion that new online family tree building sites will lift the whole genealogy industry. I’ve made the same argument as CEO of World Vital Records.

You build a tree with help from other family members and pretty soon you’ve entered all the names you can from memory and now you need to start doing more in-depth research. That’s where genealogy research sites like Ancestry.com and WorldVitalRecords.com are needed.

But I wonder how thrilled anyone at Ancestry.com really is that Geni.com has done a better job of making it easy to build a family tree and invite everyone to collaborate on it.

Back in 1999 we launched our OFT (online family tree) tool at Ancestry.com and MyFamily.com and started getting tons of usage. Billions of records were uploaded or added over the next few years. But when MyFamily.com bought the #1 genealogy software product, Family Tree Maker in 2003 (a year after I left the company), it stopped pushing its free download software, Ancestry Family Tree, and stopped promoting its free online family tree building tools as much as it had before. Because now, instead of cannabilizing its competitors software revenue, it was now cannabilizing its own revenue.

With Geni’s launch, and with several other online family tree tools/social networks available now or launching soon (such as SharedTree.com, Amiglia, Famster, FamilyTreeGuide.com, Cozi, FamilyLearn.com and OurStory.com) The Generations Network (parent of Ancestry.com and MyFamily.com) has a ton of new competitors. By not pushing its free online tree tools for the last 4 years, it has really created this vacuum and invited all this new competition.

If anyone is thrilled with what is going on in the family history world, I think it should be consumers, who are going to find that competition leads to better and more affordable tools.

And of course, I am thrilled to be involved with World Vital Records, one of the “spate of other online family history newcomers” that Ancestry.com is welcoming to “its world.”

We’re weeks away from launching our new flagship website and hopefully getting a specific mention by name in the next “Ancestry.com welcomes….” press release.

This is going to be a very fun year.

Unlimited storage at World Vital Records

World Vital Records recently added new hardware to triple our searching capacity and almost 10 times our storage capacity for images. This allows us to collect family trees and historical photos as well as post newspaper images much faster. Our images server now has over 7 terabytes of storage. All of our searching is done using 64 bit operating systems on quad processor boxes with 8 gig of ram.

In addition to bulking up our own server capacity, we are signing on with Amazon’s S3 web service so that we can basically have unlimited storage capacity as index and host genealogical record collections from around the world.

Jeff Barr (visit his blog) who evangelizes Amazon’s web services recently spoke at the Provo Labs Academy and convinced many of us there that Amazon’s huge investments in this area mean that smaller companies can utilize the vast computing and storage power that Amazon is providing to us. We love their passion for this new business. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos spoke at the Web 2.0 Summit last November and was interviewed by TechCrunch: he sounds very committed to this new line of business. I liked this comment on the TechCrunch blog:

Kalpesh Patel: “This is heaven for startups. Imagine having the power of provisioning unlimited space and unlimited computing power. You are actually building your apps using 10-15 years of experience already behind you taking care of scalability and reliability issues. I am very much excited about it. EC2 is still in infant stage but definitely has an early movers advantage in this space. I wonder VMware guys must be having nightmares when it really rocks in.”

With this kind of “unlimited space and unlimited computing power” we can offer free hosting to large non-profit genealogical organizations that have their own web sites and we can work in a flexible manner with anyone who has a large genealogical database that they want us to index, or host, or link to original images. The possibilities are just not constrained by hardware anymore.

Our team is really jazzed about our new inhouse capacity and the unlimited capacity that we get through Amazon’s S3 services.

Job Openings at World Vital Records

We will be officially posting some officially worded job openings at World Vital Records soon, but sometimes I think, why not blog about them, even before they are fully baked? One of my blog readers might be perfect for one of these spots or know the right person. We might be able to hire the right applicant, even before getting the job openings listed formally on our company web site.

Here are a few positions that we will be recruiting in the coming days/weeks:

  • Customer Service. Since we approaching 6,000 paying subscribers, and are signing up a good number of new subscribers every day, we need one additional phone and email support person. We are definitely looking for someone with excellent knowledge of the internet and technology, as well as a knowledge of and passion for family history. Our current customer service manager also writes articles and tips for our newsletters. In a small company you often wear many hats. So we are looking for someone else like this. Prior experience providing customer service for another online genealogy company would be a plus.
  • Library Sales. We will be creating pricing for libraries and societies soon, and we need someone who can promote our World Vital Records subscriptions to these institutions all over the world. We’ll initially focus our efforts in the United States, but we would like someone with library sales experience worldwide, maybe someone who has worked at Dynix before.
  • International Content Acquisition/Contract Management. Soon we will have 50 international genealogy search engines. As our worldwide audience grows, so do our opportunities to license data from different countries and in different languages. If you have contract management or business development experience and an expertise in family history, you may want to apply.
  • Affiliate Marketing Manager. This will likely be our most important online marketing program. We would like to hire someone with personal experience as an affiliate, an understanding of family history, and the technical skills to provide what sophisticated affiliates need to maximize their revenue.

These jobs are not officially up yet, but if you read my blog and are interested, just Contact Me, and I’ll put you in touch with the right person at World Vital Records, so that when we are interviewing, you’ll be on our list.

The long term cumulative impact of guerilla marketing

In December a panel of internet entrepreneurs shared their stories and their keys to success with my BYU marketing and Provo Labs Academy students.

One young woman told how she had teamed up a few years ago with her brother to start an ecommerce site, selling a very unusual niche product. They did almost $1 million in revenue last year.

One student asked her how long it took for her sales to take off initially. Her answer surprised me: she worked for an entire week before she had her first sale.

How many people would work a full week, generate one sale (probably under $30) and still be willing to stick with it? Yes she worked for a full year before generating enough sales were to pay her a living wage.

Now, after many years of hard work, she and her brother are doing very well.

Her story reminds me how important it is to be patient and persistent with your online business. Online businesses almost always start with a small trickle of visitors, a few sales, and then over time turn into a stream of traffic and a river of repeat customers — but only if the founding team keeps at it.

Even eBay started this way. When the auction site was first launched, a small number of checks started coming in. The stream of checks turned into a torrent, all while Pierre Omidyar was working at General Magic in his cubicle. EBay was profitable from the beginning, because
there was really no overhead and the site was incredibly viral and revenue ramped quickly.

But most of the ecommerce sites listed in the Internet Retailer Top 500 (it takes more than $3 million in annual sales to make that list) probably started much more slowly than eBay. But their teams kept promoting their products, they kept at it, until revenue reached the millions.

The most important book I had when starting all of Ancestry.com and MyFamily.com’s marketing efforts was Guerilla Marketing Online Weapons: 100 Low-cost High Impact Weapons for Online Prosperity.

A lot of the tactics are now obsolete, but it is the mindset that matters the most. It’s a rare mindset but a really valuable one.

As my World Vital Records team watches our small stream of visitors grow, I want to remind them how important it is to market our company’s products at every opportunity, in every possible channel, using every possible tactic.

As our marketing team grows, I want every one of them to understand the power of guerilla marketing compounded over time.

Let’s do the math.

Suppose you hire a marketing employee at $10 per hour, and assign her to do guerilla marketing and PR using dozens of online marketing tactics. There are literally hundreds of legitimate tactics.

Let’s say that her first day she gets a link from another site that will consistently deliver 3 visitors per day from now on. This could be a link on a blog roll, or an entry in a web directory, or a link on any other site.

Not a very successful day, right. In eight hours, she cost $80, and delivered 3 visitors and no sales.

With an average conversion rate of 2% and an average sale price of $50, the marketing employee failed on day one. Result: loss of $80.

But imagine that she works every day using guerilla tactics such as posting answers to questions on Yahoo Answers, appropriately advertising on Craigslist, submitting her site to search engines and directories, commenting on blogs and participating in message boards, putting offers up on freebie sites, publishing press releases, syndicating articles, and asking bloggers to review her site or link to her. Let’s say her efforts bring an additional 3 visitors per day from links that are semi-permanent and will consistently generate 3 visitors per day from now on. (Many links have a long life span and therefore individually have a long tail.)

So after 30 days her links are now bringing in 90 visitors per day and generating 2 sales a day, or $100 in daily revenue.

Now all of a sudden the economics start looking really good. She’s generating $100 in sales with labor costs of $80. Depending on the cost of goods, she will soon be a profit center for the company, if she can continue focusing on these online marketing tactics and overcome boredom, and the lack of management understanding about what she is up to.

If she is creative enough to keep finding new ways to get permanent links from other sites that will consistently deliver 3 new visitors per day, then within a year, her efforts will be bringing about 1000 visitors per day or 20 sales per day, which would be $1000 per day, or
$30,000 per month. The second year, her results would be double.

This is how internet companies actually succeed. Ask the founders of Backcountry.com to tell you how they spent the first few years basically getting as many links from other sites as they could (even before it mattered for SEO purposes) and how over the years the cumulative impact of all these links (including from their paid affiliates) yielded tens of millions in annual revenues.

This is how it works. There are employees in every successful internet company (usually underappreciated) who are in the trenches every day, gutting it out, getting a link here and a mention here, and an affiliate here, finding webmasters or bloggers or journalists anywhere who might take an interest in their products, writing new content, finding new keywords to market around, generating some sales and some positive word of mouth, until the cumulative impact of all their efforts is generating a consistent daily stream of sales.

Since most corporate executives (unless they were there from the start) have no idea how this stuff actually happens, they don’t give much credit to the trench workers (such as when Ancestry.com laid off its only affiliate manager back in 2000 when she was merely responsible for personally recruiting 9 of the top 10 affiliates, and generating, at one point, a very significant percentage of the companies new daily sales), and they stop investing in the daily guerilla and online marketing tactics that have this cumulative impact.

When their businesses seem to plateau or peak, they panic and spend more and more dollars on paid marketing, and the guerilla stuff goes by the way side.

You can still be profitable when you are spending money to get every visitor to your web site, but not nearly as profitable as when you use a nice combination of paid marketing, guerilla and viral.

For me and my team at World Vital Records (and genealogy is extremely diverse and viral, so we have a lot of opportunities to spread the word in creative ways) the question is this: how many employees like the one I described above can we find, train, and support, before they are duplicating efforts and stepping on each other’s toes.

If our market can handle one such employee, and she can generate links every day that will bring us 3 clicks per day from now on, then in a year, we’ll have one employee generating the $1,000 per day that I described above.

But if there are enough tactics involving enough web sites from enough countries and we can have 10 employees doing this guerilla marketing stuff, then at the end of a year, this team will be generating $10,000 per day in revenue. That would be better: a $3.65 million annual revenue stream from our guerilla marketing/affiliate marketing team. But what if we could support 20 such employees, or eventually 50. The numbers start looking very good.

And it all starts with just 3 visitors a day.

PS. I just thought of a new metric for guerilla marketing. We all use unique visitors, unique visits, page views, and sales. But what about this: unique daily referring domains. I wonder if anyone has ever used that.

A guerilla marketer or a team of them could keep track (this would be an easy report in Omniture) of the number of unique domains or unique URLs that brought at least one visitor each day. If the team is doing their job and getting enough attention and links from other sites, this number would grow every day. This would indicate how horizontal their efforts.

Of course a good online or guerilla marketer will try to get prominent links on high traffic web sites that will generate hundreds or thousands of visitors per day; but my point is that you don’t have to have huge wins like this to succeed–you can do it with small wins every day over a long period of time.

12 Weeks of Internet Marketing Training

The Provo Labs Academy is offering a Thursday evening (5 pm) training course for entrepreneurs who want to learn internet marketing. I will cover all the basics of internet marketing as well as a couple dozen of my favorite tools and tactics. Click here for more information. The cost is $995 for 12 weeks. Click here for more information.

In addition to the Thursday class, past and present members of the Academy are invited to attend our Live Friday meetings. Every Friday at lunch time we meet to discuss the internet news of the week: the new funded companies, the new web sites, the new marketing tools, the new advertising opportunities, the trends and shifts that are taking place in audio, video, mobile computing, social networking, and Web 2.0 that will affect your ability to reach and retain customers online.

If you can’t do Thursday evening, you can join the Academy and attend Live Fridays beginning in March for $99 per month.

Three Top Presidential Candidates Don’t Actually Live in the United States (Source: HowManyOfMe.com)

Interesting that after my last post on how names affect your ability to standout online, I noticed a post by Phil Windley, the man who inspired me to blog, about HowManyOfMe.com, a web site that uses census data to estimate the number of people living in the United States that have the same name as you.

For Phil Windley, the answer is 3.
For me, Paul Allen, the answer is 2,838.
For my hypothetical John Smith, the answer is 49,535.

Interesting stuff. But when I plugged in the names of the Presidential Candidates for 2008, I discovered some disturbing news and I’m breaking it right here and now. (Quick, somebody call Matt Drudge!)

There are 443 people named John McCain, 6,746 named John Edwards, 1 person named Hillary Clinton (but 12 named Bill), and shockingly, the algorithm reveals that there are 0 people in the U.S. named “Mitt Romney” or “Barack Obama” or “Rudy or Rudolph Giuliani.” There isn’t even a Willard Romney, I guess because both names are rather unusual.

So three of the top candidates don’t actually live in the United States according to the Census Bureau data (I think we’ll need a Congressional Investigation of this–doesn’t the Constitution require our presidents to live here?), and the political Hillary Clinton is the only Hillary Clinton that lives in these United States.

So I suppose she’ll have a slight edge over other candidates who don’t actually live in the U.S. or who may have to compete with other non-candidates who share their name, and might therefore cause a bunch of confusion in this upcoming election.

Some of those other 6,745 John Edwards might own web sites and blogs and really cause a lot of confusion for the actual candidate. (But the confusion might actually be to his advantage. Suppose that everyone who knows those other John Edwards — and the average person probably knows 300 other people — votes for him, thinking it is their friend who is running for President. Then 2,023,500 people might accidentally vote for John Edwards because of incidental name recognition. So this could give him a big advantage.)

Like I said, this is going to be a really interesting election.

WSJ Startup Journal: How to stand out online

Some people are born with great names and others have great names thrust upon them. In the 1960s when I was given the name “Paul Allen” it was an ordinary name. But thanks to the dynamic duo of Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the name is now famous.

But what do you do if you want to be found online, but you can’t possibly stand out like the rich and famous person with the same name? Or what do you do if you have a name like “John Smith” that is so common that it can’t possibly stand out?

The Wall Street Journal Center for Entrepreneurs published an article today by Elva Ramirez that may give entrepreneurs a few ideas about how to stand out in the search engines and how to elevate your search engine rankings. One key is blogging. Another is giving yourself a unique online persona, like Phil Burns did.

I was interviewed for the article as was Phil Burns, aka Phil801, founder of TagJungle.com.

I mentioned in the interview that it’s hard to compete in search engine rankings with the Microsoft Paul Allen. He used to have the first fifty or so search results in Google. But since I’ve been blogging fairly consistently for more than three years, and have posted about 800-900 times, I’ve attracted hundreds of incoming links that have given my paulallen.net web site a decent ranking on the search phrase “paul allen.”

I’m still known as Paul Allen the Lesser, and will likely stay that way forever both in reputation and in Google rank, unless I outlive the Greater and do something so marvelous (like bring about world peace through blogging) that my web page someday outranks his Wikipedia article. Not likely, I know. I’ll settle for third or fifth and be happy as a clam.

But when you name your company, or purchase your domain name, or name your product or service, do something to make it unique and easy to find, or do something to attract so much attention that you get the search engine rankings that you need to be found.

It often takes a ton of quality content (either company published or user generated) to generate enough incoming links to get high rankings on various keywords. But I’ve seen in done over and over and over again by SEO savvy entrepeneurs and internet marketers.

It pays great dividends to generate content that is worth linking to, because search engine rankings can make the difference between success and failure of an online business. I tried to calculate the value of high search engine rankings in an article published in December 2004 by Connect Magazine last year.

In the mid 90s, it mattered a great deal that your company name started with an “A” or better yet a number like “10x” since so many directories were alphabetically sorted. As better sorting algorithms were developed, that became less important. (But even now, in Google Book Search, the book vendors are listed in alphabetically order, meaning that Abe Books and Alibris show up ahead of Amazon.com whenever you want to purchase a book.)

How do you think names will affect the 2008 Presidential Campaign?

I think Hilary or is it Hillary Clinton has a pretty big problem. People don’t know how to spell her name. About 1/4th or 1/3rd seem to spell it wrong according to a Google Trends Report on both spellings. Her first name has two l’s.

I think Rudy Giuliani has an even bigger problem. It’s hard to find someone online when you can’t spell their name correctly. It’s taken me several searches for me to become comfortable with the spelling of his last name. The first few times I got it wrong.

Barack Hussein Obama will have the problem of getting people to spell his first name correctly (I think I typed two “r”s initially), but worse still, the Hussein might bring up all kinds of search engine results that may turn people off. Good thing for him that his last name has a “b” in it rather than an “s.”

People may wonder if you spell Mitt Romney with one or two t’s, so I think John Edwards and John McCane have the edge here in “ease of use.” Just kidding, I know it’s McCain, but I wonder if everyone else knows that as well. So may Edwards actually has the advantage.

At least I thought he did, until I did a search on Google for “John Edwards” and after the first three hits came up I saw something I’ve never seen before, a line separating the first three results from the next set of results, followed by a message:

“See results for John Edward”

Then below that were a bunch of websites dealing with a musician named John Edward.

I have never before seen Google take a plural word query (Edwards) and offer search results for a singular version of the name (Edward) partway down the page.

Can someone tell me what’s going on here? Does someone at Google not like John Edwards?

(Just kidding, I totally believe what happens at Google is algorithmically based. But John Edwards just happens to be caught in a bad spot with regards to this particular algorithm. Instead of “hanging chads” determining the outcome of the 2008 Election, maybe it will be a tweaked google algorithm.)

I wonder how many of the campaigns will try to purchase domains or build sites that include the misspelled versions of their opponents names. Would that be a base tactic in politics?

I typed in familsearch.com the other day (accidentally missed the “y”) and I found that I got redirected to the Ancestry.com web site presumably because an affiliate bought that typo version of a popular domain name and took advantage of the typo. In internet marketing this happens all the time. Some companies own thousands of domains with misspellings and typos that can redirect traffic from their competitors’ sites.

So what do you do to stand out online? And why do you think it matters?

And what advice would you give the 2008 Presidential Campaigns as they try to stand out online? Who has an inherent advantage because of his/her name, and who has a disadvantage? Which tactics should they embrace, and which should they avoid, because they might backfire? Which candidate will write the blog with the best content (hopefully not ghost-written, but genuine) and attract the most incoming links in order to get more incoming traffic and higher search engine rankings.

For a lot of reasons, including the impact of names on a candidate’s ability to be found online, it will be an interesting race to watch.

Why I Support Mitt Romney for President

This morning Mitt Romney announced his 2008 presidential bid in Michigan. His theme is innovation and transformation. Here is the full text of Romney’s speech from the NY Times.

I’m excited by Mitt’s candidancy and want to publicly declare my support for him. My blog is not a political blog by any means, but it is a personal one, and occasionally I like to express my personal opinions on a variety of topics, not just entrepreneurship.

I like many other candidates as well. Who isn’t fond of Rudy Giuliani for his amazing leadership in the wake of the 9/11 attack? My family will always be grateful to him for his strength and grace. He is a great leader. I’m also very fond of Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas. I appreciate his social conservatism and his optimism for the future. I love his concept of horizontal and not vertical politics.

From the Economist:

Mr Huckabee talks of “horizontal” and “vertical” politics. Horizontal politics means the bad old ways: Democrat versus Republican, or liberals against conservatives. Vertical politics means that people forget their differences, and their leaders elevate them as a whole. Mr Huckabee’s two most admirable vertical presidents are John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. The other man from Hope inclined more to the horizontal.

I am supporting Romney because I believe he will be the most capable administrator of the largest government in the world, and that he will tackle head on problems that traditional politicians have swept under the carpet for decades, postponing any solutions because they are afraid of the political fallout for rocking the boat.

Unlike most Washington politicians who are lawyers, Romney is a successful businessman, a turn-around artist, who helped build a very successful investment firm by acquiring and turning around companies and creating new value within these enterprises.

I truly believe that Romney’s approach to governing this nation will be solid and sound because it will be based on tried and proven business, leadership and financial principles, learned from very large-scale real world business experience — experience that no other candidate has.

In a nation that needs a financial turnaround (our national debt is $8.7 trillion and climbing fast — check out this national debt clock). We need a turn around artist, a gifted and articulate leader with a great vision for change and a penchant for surrounding himself with results-oriented people who won’t get embroiled in petty partisan politics, but who will actual make the difficult decisions necessary to solve the problems we are facing.

As an investor, Mitt Romney had to find CEOs who could deliver results and he did. He knows how to identify and attract great people to his team. When he stepped in to save the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, he built a team that turned these games into a huge success, when they had been on the brink of serious disaster.

As the governor of Massachusetts, Romney turned a huge deficit into a balanced budget, while at the same time addressing major health care and educational issues at the state level (where they should be managed.)

I do not want to see the federal government try to solve health care and education issues. It’s extra-constitutional in my opinion, since the Tenth Amendment clearly says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people.”

I don’t believe that a Romney Presidency will be anything like the Bush Presidency. Bush didn’t seem to recognize the difference between what the constitution of a state like Texas allows a governor to do, and what the federal constitution of the United States allows the Federal Government to do. I think there has been a greater expansion of the federal government in education under Bush than under all previous presidents, Democrat or Republican, combined.

Bush also isn’t known for identifying and recruiting the best people to solve the biggest problems we face. He is well known for his deep loyalty to his friends. That just doesn’t work well when you are talking about running a $2.9 trillion budget and playing on the world stage with the highest possible stakes. Your team has to deliver results, or you have to get a new team.

I believe Mitt Romney will form the most effective and efficient team of any president in modern history. I believe the national debt will be attacked head on. Romney will recognize that our nation will become insolvent if we don’t change our current course. He will find a way to reduce the tremendous burden the national debt places on every American.

I believe that his leadership will inspired new solutions in education, energy, and health care, but that they won’t be top down federal government mandates. I think he will be open minded to out of the box thinking and innovation. As an investor, he’s definitely manifest the ability to see where things are going and back the right ideas and people. He’ll do the same as President of the United States.

Warren Buffett (I attended the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in 2005) compared the United States to a family farm. The family members wanted to live beyond their means, beyond what the normal harvest would support, so every year they would sell off a little piece of property to subsidize their wants. While Buffet is a democrat, and I don’t him to endorse Mitt Romney, I do believe that these two speak the same economic language. They both have rare gifts, and both of them are using their gifts to bless humanity. Buffett’s pledge of $31 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation demonstrates his desire to do good. Mitt’s willingness to subject himself, his family, and his religion to unprecedented and vitriolic attacts, in order to win the presidency and help turn this country around demonstrates his desire to be a public servant.

Romney’s ability to raise money for his campaign (click here if you’d like to donate), to get key endorsements, and to build a campaign team in every key state, is indicative of his administrative abilities. His poll numbers are strengthening in Iowa, New Hampshire, and elsewhere, including his “three home states” (Utah, Michigan, and Massachusetts).

Most voters still know little or nothing about Romney, but as his name recognition increases, as the online search volume about Romney continues to grow, more and more people will come to appreciate all that he offers in this campaign to turnaround the country. It’s happening already. He looks and talks and acts like a president.

I am tremendously excited for the 2008 campaign, the most open campaign in fifty years, with the most diverse field of candidates in history. Everyone will have unprecendent access to online information about every candidate, to most of their speeches (in text, audio and video format) and with more information about their track record than ever before.

I am not looking forward to all the attacks that will inevitably come at each candidate, especially the front-runners. I wish we could have a “kinder, gentler” blogosphere. But I know that is a vain wish. We live in a very polarized country (the red states and blue states and all that) and politics fires up a lot of people to do and say a lot of things they normally wouldn’t do or say.

But rather than attack, I encourage bloggers to try to be positive, to support the best ideas from all the candidates, and to elect a president that will lead this country in the right direction.

I encourage everyone to take a very close look at Mitt Romney, whose great capacity to solve problems and create value for stakeholders will help build an America that we can be proud of. An American that will remain a great nation with strong families and communities, stay competitive in the face of unprecendented challenges from Asian economies, and once again provide leadership to the world to rally together in times of crisis, when our enemies attack.

I believed in Reagan and I believe in Romney, and I’ve struggled to believe in between.

(Note: thanks to all my readers who corrected my earlier post about the national debt being $8.7 billion, instead of trillion. A silly mistake. If it were only $8.7 billion, Warren Buffett could have retired the debt by himself. But it’s 1,000 times worse than that. The national debt clock shows that each family/household in the United States would be responsible for $138,497 of that debt–a bit less than the median home price in this country.

Latest Connect Magazine Articles

I finally got around to linking to my two latest Connect Magazine articles. You can read all my part articles here. I love writing this column, and as I’ve said before, my blog got me in the habit of writing regularly and was responsible for my getting this column.

I continue to encourage everyone to start blogging and keep at it, for all the various benefits that come from it. Two years ago I mentioned a few benefits of blogging, and for me, the benefits just continue to mount. The most recent being that I was invited to participate in a broadcast that might reach millions of people worldwide. I’ll share more details later, but it’s truly an amazing opportunity. It would not have happened without my blog.