Paving the road less traveled...
The Journey of a Thousand Visitors (a day)…

OK, it was Michael’s mortgage company, he built it, he blazed the trail when interest rates were 15% and no one said he could make it -- but Mike did make it, and he still makes the all the decisions in his company. His business has grown to the point where he owned a two-story brick building and had grown to occupy both floors. Mike also had developed a great word-of-mouth client base.  His company volume had stabilized over the last few years.  And this year, it looked like volume might actually be off a bit; and Mike had noticed that decline.

But for whatever reason, maybe because he was busy with the mortgage business, Michael had been oblivious to the IBM ‘net’ commercials, barely noticed the transition from 800 numbers to the dot com web address in print ads and other than using $2.50 worth of time of his $20 AOL account to get stock prices, he just didn’t think this net thing was for real.

That was because Michael didn’t understand the net… yet.  His journey was just beginning.

From The Mouth Of Babes.

That changed about three months ago when his daughter, Kenzie, was ‘online’ with her girlfriend.  She was giggling and Michael casually said, “Kenz, why don’t you just call her?”  Feverishly typing, without looking up, she said, “Dad, you are so… umm… so… 80’s... fer sure.”  Hmm, at 44, Mike is probably more 70’s than 80’s, so that really stung, especially coming from a 13 year old.  Then Kenzie sent the real zinger, “Dad, you don’t even have a domain name, I don’t have one, all my friends have one…”

Trying to make the best of a rapidly deteriorating conversation, Mike remembered how he spent his entire lunchtime looking for a favorite Peter Drucker book at the bookstore, but it wasn’t there.  He challenged Kenzie to find the book by saying, “If the net is so powerful, find Drucker on Management.”  She opened a new browser window, (“Hmm, how did she do that?” he wondered) went to Amazon.com, and while it was loading, asked her dad how to spell it. Kenzie then alt-tabbed back to her conversation browser with her friend.  Four minutes later, she not only had the book Mike was seeking, but a list of every book Drucker ever wrote.

Time, Waits For No One.

“Gawd, four minutes… just four minutes” Mike said to himself, “I spent 10 times that amount looking at lunch and didn’t find it.” And then he thought, “I bet it works the same way for mortgages.”

Mike noticed the book is out of print but saw there was a special search feature to look for copies. Silently, Michael was impressed.  His most precious business commodity, time, and his daughter just saved him a fistful.  Mike almost was ready to ask Kenz to do the out-of-print search, but she is back into the conversation.

All aboard.

That was the turning point. And Mike was always a man of action, so he broke down and thought he would start a new path... and ride the Internet wave to riches. So Mike spent a few bucks, well -- more than a few bucks, on one those guys with a pocket protector he ridiculed in high school and the geek built Mike’s new web site.  It was pretty and colorful, had a mortgage calculator, an online application, even a cute little ‘cha-ching’ sound every time a web page opened, and, even better…

Mike’s wife approved.  Plus the geek designer has said he won several design awards, and this site surely would win an award as well. Mike, started spending more time with his AOL account and soon realized the increased efficiency and sales production that a new web site could provide.  He thought that this should allow him to finally layoff his sales manager, who hasn't sold a thing since the day Mike put him on salary. “Boy, this net really is worth it,” he mused to himself.  Mike even stopped referring to the web designer as ‘geek’ and started calling him the ‘award winner.’

The site went up in less than 20 days.  Then a week goes by... and no traffic.  A month goes by... and not much traffic.  “Hey, if I could build a company when interest rates were high, this should be simple,” he said to himself.

The counter on the site crept up to 87…  Mike considered increasing Kenzie’s allowance just to click on his mortgage site, over and over, to increase the counter total so he is not so embarrassed in case anyone actually visits.

California Dreamin’

In Mike’s best, newfound netspeak he wondered, "Does the net suck?" or is it some sort of Karmic payback from the geek, for all the grief Mike gave him, and others like him, that is causing his site to flounder.

It was Monday morning and on Mike’s way to the coffee room he could overhear the new 20-something, Gen-X employee from the document processing and Mary, his cute, but closer to 40 than 20, executive secretary talking.  The X-er was trying to impress Mary by attempting to use music to reach across the generation says,  "Mary, have you seen our web site?  I look it this weekend, and it is one of those California Dreamin' sites.”

Continue...

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