Three Great Ideas Virtually Nobody Has Seen.

I love great ideas. I love when we all are watching something and talk about it. I love when a few people come in to my office and say, “I wish I thought of that.” And recently that happened with the Carrie movie promo “telekinesis coffee shop” video that showed up on YouTube.  As of this morning, 39 million people have viewed the video. I’ve attached the link in case you haven’t seen it.  It’s really fun.

But I also wanted to show you three other ideas.  I love all three of these and less than 100,000 people have viewed these videos.  I think all are amazing.  They get me in my heart and in my head. They all make me feel something and think something.

I wish I had created all of these.

#1 – The Call Girl Next Door – This is an amazing idea that took a very simple idea and made it a national phenomenon. And while this took place half way around the world, the idea is so simple; it could have been done anywhere. How many views on YouTube? 90.  I love this. It should have 9 million views.  Take a look and let me know what you think.

#2 – 12th Man – This video has the most views of any. A little over 60,000. And yet the idea was so simple. The results so amazing. I instantly said, “I wish I had done this.” Of course, it’s incredibly sad that this APP had to be created. It’s incredibly foreign to us in the USA that these rights could be taken away. But this is proof that a simple idea can unite people. Enjoy.


#3 – September Surprise – This is a heart-warming story of a little girl with cancer. And an idea to make her feel special, while she was dealing with her illness. I can’t watch this without thinking about how I should be doing more to help people. Only 41,000 people have watched this video.  I think its special.

What makes these special?  They’re simple. They’re true. They could have easily have been done before, but nobody did it. And they force you to have a response. I think you can’t watch these without feeling something.

And that’s what good advertising is supposed to do.  Make you have a response.




The Mayor Of New York City Can Never Be A Fan Of The Boston Red Sox

Screen shot 2013-10-15 at 10.43.07 AMSomeone just brought something to my attention that I find very disturbing. That mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio is a Boston Red Sox Fan. What? Really? Impossible. This must be some kind of joke. The man who’s leading in the polls and has a very good chance of leading New York City is a fan of the Red Sox?

What has this world come to?

Let me remind you what that means. October 2004, Bill De Blasio is stilling at home watching Curt Schilling take the mound for Game Six of the American League Championship Series versus the Yankees. And he’s rooting for Schilling. He’s sitting at home wearing his Jason Varitek jersey and going crazy when Kevin Millar scores.  He curses the Bambino when Bernie Williams hits a home run. And he laughs at Alex Rodriguez when he’s called out for interference. And when Tony Clark strikes out to end the game, he sits around with his Sam Adams Boston Lager and is thinking “Why Not Us?”

Do I have to ask if Bill owns a 2004 American League Champion Boston Red Sox t-shirt that was given to him by his buddies Johnny Damon and David Ortiz who both homered in Game 7? Was he the guy who made millions over the ‘reverse the curse’ t-shirts. Was that Bill sitting at the Stadium in a Red Sox hat laughing at Rudy Giuliani? Was he the guy who has a framed copy of the Daily News in his office? You know the one with the headline “The Chokes On Us?”  And this guy wants to be our Mayor?  Really?

Let’s rewind to 2007. You remember, Bill De Blasio screaming like a mad man as the Red Sox nipped the Yankees by 2 games to take the American League East. You remember Bill; he’s the guy laughing as the Red Sox swept Colorado in 4 straight games. I think he was probably the guy who made millions off the ‘Who’s Your Daddy Now” t-shirts.

We shouldn’t forget that as soon as the election is over, Bill is probably going to grow a beard just like every other Red Sox loving fan. And he’ll claim it’s for Mowvember to support a charity – but we’ll all know better. He’s growing it to support his favorite team. The Red Sox.

Now I don’t live in New York City. And I don’t get a vote. But I know plenty of you out there DO live in New York City and DO get to vote. So I’m starting a protest, right now. The Mayor of New York City can not – can never – ever be a Boston Red Sox fan. Imagine our mayor sitting in the Stadium wearing a ‘Come back Mo, we need another blown save” T-shirt. Imagine him laughing as Derek Jeter hobbles around shortstop next year. Imagine him cutting off funding for ticker tape parades when the Yankees win the World Series (again).

If he’s a Red Sox fan, does that mean he’s also a Patriots fan? A Bruin fan? A Celtics fan? Are we going to elect this guy? (And by we, I mean you.)

This cannot happen.

I could accept a Mets fan. I could even accept a Dodgers or Giants (baseball) fan – as they can claim some family heritage to the New York team.  But in the words of Taylor Swift – I can never ever, ever, ever accept a Red Sox fan.

Don’t comment here. Comment with your vote.  Read the attached link:



I (don’t) miss the movies

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I used to go to the movies all the time. I can remember first dates, last dates, special occasions and rainy days. I remember my first movie and taking my children to their first film.  But lately, movies have fallen out of my routine. Partially because I’m doing a lot more ‘other’ things that I never did before. Partially because my wife and son don’t crave going to the movies. But mostly, because I’ve lost interest. Whenever I look at the listings, there’s nothing I’m excited to see.  Even when I look at the movies on cable, there are very few times when I say “Gee, this would have been much better if I saw this in the theatre.”

I’m trying to remember the last movie I saw in a theatre. I think I took my son to see Avatar in IMAX 3-D. I’m pretty sure that we the last one. But to be honest, I’m not 100% sure.

So I decided to look at the listing of the movie theatre near my house to see if there was anything that caught my eye. Hmmmmm let me search. Ok, here are the choices:

Captain Phillips – Hmmm, Tom Hanks vehicle. I’m sure he plays a really nice guy caught up in a tough spot. And everything comes out OK at the end.  IMDb rating of 8.1, which is pretty good. This one goes on the maybe list. The fact that its PG-13 means I can bring my son. Although the Somali pirate thing scares me off a bit.

Gravity – Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. I like them. IMDb rating of 8.7, which is excellent for 56,000 users.  Metascore of 96/100. Also PG-13.  This has real potential. I may have to go see this.  Gravity seems like a movie made for a big screen.  OK, this one is officially on the must see list.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – Pass, I think I’m past going to kid movies.

Insidious: Chapter 2 – I didn’t know there was a Chapter 1. IMDb rating of 7.1. Looks scary. I don’t think so.

Rush – Isn’t that the Ron Howard directed movie I see on TV commercials every 5 minutes? It got an IMDb rating of 8.3, that’s pretty good. Better than Captain Phillips. But for some reason, I have no desire to see a movie about racecar drives. I guess “Days of Thunder” spoiled the entire genre for me.  Pass.

Baggage Claim – never heard of it.  IMDb rating of 3.5. Wow, I didn’t know that ratings went that low. I spend too much time in airports. Nope. Pass.

Don Jon – the poster says its ‘Stellar’ ‘Hilarious’ ‘Genuine’ ‘Emotional’ – That must mean it sucks.  IMDb score of 7.3, Metascore of 66/100. The write up says, “A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn.” Hmmm, this is a comedy & drama? Yeah, I don’t thing this one is for me.

That’s it.  Those are my choices.

Going by everything I just read, I would say Gravity is my next movie. Except I have no time to go to the movies. Which means it will have to still be in the theatres in November when I have time.

But by November all the Oscar hopefuls will be flooding the theatres, and I’ll have a whole new batch to choose from.  Ahhhhhhh!

Well, I’ll let you know if I get to the movies. In the meantime, if you’ve seen any of these and would like to give me you encapsulated reviews, just leave them below.

Thanks, and happy viewing.



Top 40 Radio in 1973 Sucked, too

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I think we tend to romanticize things from long ago. How things were better. How things were cooler. That’s not always true. In fact, this morning I was listening to the radio with my 11-year old, and was thinking how much better music was when I was his age. So, I decided to look up the top radio hits from 40 years ago, just to test my theory. And guess what? I was wrong. Top 40 radio sucked in 1973, too.

Here are the top hits of that year.

#1 – Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around The Old Oak Tree – Tony Orlando and Dawn. Really. That was the best song of the entire year? We couldn’t do any better than that? My guess, it was one of those songs that got into the public’s head, and wouldn’t let go. Let’s face it – this is a song about an ex-convict coming home from prison. Who know what he did. Yet, it was the #1 hit of the entire year. It must get better.

#2 – Bad, Bad Leroy Brown – Jim Croce.  A song about another really bad guy. In fact, he was the ‘baddest man in the whole damn town.”  But this guy got what’s coming to him. While Tony Orlando’s bad guy got the girl in the end, Leroy Brown got into a bar fight and ended up looking like “a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.” I have to admit, I remember when Jim Croce died and was very sad. My school played “Time in a bottle” over the PA system the day he died.

#3 – Killing Me Softly With His Song – Roberta Flack. I guess this was the beginning of the soft rock ‘70s.  While this is a beautiful song – where are all the rock and roll songs? Where are the Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin?  This is the early ‘70s.  Didn’t it rock?

#4 – Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On. I can’t argue with this song. An all-time classic, which I would listen to today if it came on the radio and not cringe. In fact, there’s a new song in the top 40 called “Classic” by MTKO that references Marvin and this song. (As well as Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Prince’s Kiss.)  Go Marvin.

#5 – Paul McCartney & Wings – My Love.  Before Sir Paul was Sir Paul, we was still the ex-Beatle with a new band. The only problem is Linda McCartney is singing background instead of John Lennon. And while this song is #5 – I won’t be learning to play this any time soon.

#6 – Kris Kristofferson – Why Me. I have to admit, I have no idea what this song is.  I don’t remember it. I don’t think I ever heard it. It could be great. I don’t know.

#7 – Elton John – Crocodile Rock. The beginning of the end for Sir Elton.  I liked his music before he became bubble gum with this song. His first 3 albums were among my favorites.  Never loved this song.

#8 – Billy Preston – Will It Go Round In Circles? A catchy little tune. The Beatles Apple records freshly signed Billy. Had played some back up tracks on the Let It Be album. And then this hit.   But I still notice. No rock and roll.

#9 – Carly Simon – You’re So Vain.  Huge break out hit. Everyone wondered whom she was singing about. Was it really Mick Jagger? Was it someone else? In the summer of 1973, this song was everywhere.

#10 – Diana Ross – Touch Me In The Morning. Uggg. I hate this song. “We don’t have tomorrow, but we have yesterday.”  Kill me now.

So I scanned the rest of the list. There had to be some rock ‘n roll in the top hits of the year, right?

Not at #11. The was Vicki Lawrence, you know the woman who played Carol Burnett’s mother on her TV show. She did “the night the lights when out in Georgia.”

The right Rock ‘n Roll song shows up at #16 – Edgar Winter Group’s Frankenstein. Next #23 – Grand Funk Railroad – We’re an American Band.

I next pass John Denver, Maureen McGovern, Barry White, the O’Jays, Anne Murray, Gladys Knight and The Pips to finally get to a real rock song.

Buried at #50 – Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water.  Finally. They just beat out Loggins and Messina, Chicago, The Carpenters & Gilbert O’Sullivan.

And if you’re wondering, The Allman Brothers? #79 – Ramblin’ Man.  The Rolling Stones? #85 – Angie. Pink Floyd? #92 – Money. Led Zeppelin? They lost out to Donny Osmond. He has the #99 song of the year – The Twelfth of Never.

That’s exactly how I felt about the music from 1973. So the next time you’re in the car and complaining about Katy Perry or Lady Gaga or Imagine Dragons or even One Direction, remember Top 40 music sucks. And it always has.



The most important thing to do at work: get noticed.

No matter the size of your organization, the best way to move up, get promoted and get the really juicy projects is to get noticed. Somehow, you have to catch the attention of the person making the decisions and make sure you get what you want.

Now here’s the tough part. You can also get noticed in a bad way. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are constantly being judged at work. What we do either confirms a belief or changes a belief.

So what are the things you can do to get noticed?  Here’s a simple guide:

1)    Do great work. I know that sounds simple, but the better the work, the sooner people start talking about who created it. Nothing is an important as positive office buzz. If you are attached to a great body of work, people will notice. There is a team at my office that always does great work. I know I can count on them (virtually) 100% of the time to come through with winning ideas. They have never disappointed me on any project. Their supervisors rave about their work ethic and creativity. Clients love their work. The exude confidence when they present internally. And what has happened, they’re getting more and more responsibility. Their work demanded they be noticed. And it worked.

2)    Have a point of view. There is nothing worse than sitting in a meeting with people who don’t have a point of view. Want to get noticed? Speak up. Challenge a creative brief. Challenge the direction being given if you don’t agree. Make sure people understand why you created a campaign or idea.  Ah, but here’s the double-edged sword on this, you have to know when to stop. You can just as easily get noticed as the person in the room who is always wrong and convinced their right. You don’t want to be THAT person. You’ve been at parties with THAT person. You’ve been in meetings with THAT person. Eventually, people stop listening to that person. Make sure that’s not you.

3)    Volunteer. Every organization needs people to help on projects. Raise your hand. Ask how you can help. Do things that are not ‘required’ in your day-to-day job.  In our company, we have an annual event ‘The Global Day of Giving’ when we help children’s charities. There are dozens of things that need to be done to make this a success. Volunteering to help will show you care. Volunteering shows you know that work isn’t the only thing that important. Volunteering shows you’re a team player.  There are plenty of examples of projects that could use extra help. Raising your hand is a great way to get noticed.

4)    Be a student of culture.  Know what’s going on in the world and pass along your knowledge to the organization. Have you seen a great new campaign? A video? An art installation?  Share it.  Here about an amazing movie? Comic? Share it. Better yet, know a great copywriter or art director or digital designer. Share it. We are in a hyper connected world.  Stay connected.

5)    Don’t give up.  When things are not going your way, it’s easy to retreat to a corner of the office and give up. Don’t. It’s easy to blame someone else for your troubles. Don’t. It’s easy to say that nobody appreciates what you do. Make them. The worst thing you can do is give up. You were hired for a reason. You have talent. You have a point a view. You have a voice. Don’t ever, ever give up.

6)    Find a mentor. Every company has someone who loves helping people. Find that person. If you’re doing an amazing job your mentor will make sure everyone knows. Your mentor will give you positive press around the agency. Your mentor will help spread some buzz about you and your work.  Find someone.

There are probably dozens of other tips I could pass. But I think these are the most important. Oh, and one other thing. Be yourself.

I’d love to know any stories of fun things that people got noticed. Comment below. Thanks and Happy Thursday.



I’m sorry I can’t possibly hire you – and other interview horror stories

If you read this column often, you know that I meet a lot of people. I interview, on average, 2-3 people per week. It’s part of our corporate culture. “Always know where your next great hire will come from,” is a mantra we all follow. I meet people who are coming out of school months before they graduate. I meet people who are running agencies. I meet people when I don’t ‘currently’ have a position for them. I meet people because I’ve heard good things about them.

But when you meet so many people, there are bound to be a few horror stories.

Here are a few.

You Created THAT?  I met someone recently. I had heard amazing things about him. Great with people. Great mentor. Really great work. The entire package. Then we started talking about work. He proudly mentioned a campaign that his agency created.  He told me that he was the driving force behind the idea and how hard we worked keeping it alive through multiple rounds of testing and client comments. The issue. I hate the campaign. In fact, in a recent speech, I used this campaign as an example of ‘old fashioned bad healthcare advertising.’ I think it’s one of the worst campaigns created in the last 5 years. And the worst part, he knew I hated it the second he mentioned it. My poker face betrayed me. He asked, “You don’t like it, do you?” I decided to tell him the truth. “Actually, I hate it. It feels dated and wouldn’t get approved to take to the client if you worked here.” As he tried to defend the campaign, I knew I could never work with this guy. Great guy. Not on my team.

Just come in from the bar? I remember being 25-years-old. I remember going out and having a few drinks with friends in smoke filled bars. I remember getting home so late that I decided not to go to sleep before going to work. But I never did that the night before an interview. This guy comes into my office. Clearly hadn’t slept. Clearly hadn’t showered. Was wearing whatever was on the floor and close to his bed. He smelled like beer.  No resume. No portfolio. No business card. Instead of my usual line of questioning, I decided to go for the quick exit. My first question: “Do you have any questions about us?” His answer: “Not really, everyone has already told me a lot about you guys.” I came back, “And you think this is a place for you?” He had the perfect answer, “I’m still not sure.” I stood up, held out my hand “Thanks for coming in, I’m not sure either.”  With that, he picked up his cat hair covered sweater off my sofa, and walked out. Never to be heard from again.

Could your skirt be any shorter?  I tell this to every female college senior I meet – don’t wear skirts that are too short on job interviews. It makes you uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable because I can tell you’re uncomfortable. I recently met a junior art director for an interview and she made the biggest mistake of wearing something completely inappropriate for an interview. Way too low. Way too short. And way too dressy for an agency interview. It was something I’d expect someone to wear to a dressy school social. For the next 30 minutes, all she did was fuss with her dress. And the pity, she had incredible talent. We may still offer her an internship in the spring or summer. Maybe she’ll learn on the job.  But she’s certainly not ready for prime time.

Are you always this boring? The biggest faux pas you can make is being downright boring. I shouldn’t have to struggle to have a 30-minute conversation with you. And lets face it; this should be the easiest conversation ever. You’re talking about yourself. You’re talking about your work. You’re talking about things your passionate about. But just last week, I met someone who almost put me to sleep. One-word answers. I would ask questions about his work, and this guy actually said, “I think its self explanatory.” Really? That’s your answer. It must not be self explanatory, since I had a question. Perhaps you should rethink that response.  Next question “Why are you thinking of leaving your current agency now?” His response, “I don’t know, you HR lady called.” Now that was at least a full sentence. “I see from your resume that you worked in Brazil, what was that like?” “Hot” OK, let me try a different way in. “I see you went to the SVA in New York, did you like it there?” “Yea.”  That was the end of the interview. I stood up, shook his hand. Said “bye.” If you’re going to be a part of my team, there’s one thing that you can’t be – and that’s boring.

Bad work. Beer guy. Skirt girl. And boring me to sleep.  Yup, another interesting week at the office.




300 songs in 2 days

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This weekend I had a goal.

I wanted to play every song I had ever learned to play on the guitar. I would play each song once, and move on to the next song. I would start with the song that I am currently learning (Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’) and end with the first song I learned. (The Beatles ‘Hey Jude’)

In my estimation, over the 2-1/4 years, I’ve learned about 300 songs. I didn’t come close to playing them all.

I sat down with my music on Saturday afternoon. I cranked through about 20 songs pretty quickly. Eric Clapton, Beatles, Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Eagles, Pure Prairie League, The Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones and even solos from John Lennon and George Harrison.

But I couldn’t play each song only once.

I found myself trying to improve small mistakes and difficult parts. I would go back and play a certain section over and over. Then I’d tackle the entire song again. I found myself trying to fuse together acoustic and electric parts together into one mega part – so I could play all my favorite parts of a song.

I started experimenting with playing songs in different keys, to make them easier for me to sing. (Down ½ step from standard tuning seems to be my magic key.) And of course, I played with different guitars, depending on the song, to see if I liked the way one guitar sounded over the other.

By the time that I realized that I was breaking my own rules, I decided that I was never going to make it through all the songs I’d ever learned.  So I started cheating. Tunes that are basically the same musically over and over again – I would play about ½ the song. Verse, bridge, chorus. Done. Maybe I’d play the ending, if it had an interesting change at the end.  But mostly, I’d just stop.

By Sunday morning, I had made my way through about 75 songs. I will admit my hands were tired. Somewhere I decided to figure out some interesting ‘walk up and walk downs’ to a song to give the impression of the bass line while playing the rhythm part. I switched to an hour of finger picking (which I’m not very good at doing, and I just wanted to force myself to do something that’s not easy for me to do.)

After a huge break to watch a football game, I got back to it after dinner on Sunday. At some point, my son joined me and started jamming with me on the drums. That was fun for a few minutes.

And then it hit me. Somewhere in the middle of playing a Neil Young song I realized that I didn’t have to finish. Pink Floyd would have to wait until another day. As would Lynard Skynyrd, Mountain and Boston and The Yardbird and The White Stripes, The Youngbloods, ZZ Top and dozens more.

But I did play ‘Hey Jude’ to end my weekend. I think it was a perfect song to finish on. It was the first song I learned. The song that got me hooked. The band that made me fall in love with popular music.  And I could sing along without changing the key.

What could be better.

I’m looking for more song suggestions. Please comment below some songs you think I’d enjoy playing.  Thanks and have a great week.







10 tips to help you land a great job

Rich @ Syracuse on stage

Tuesday at Syracuse, I spoke about how great I think it is to work in healthcare advertising. My topic was called “Healthcare advertising doesn’t suck.” I showed lots of examples, talked about the myths surrounding healthcare advertising, and tried to show 200 students the path to getting a great job.  Since Tuesday, I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails from those students asking questions about a career in healthcare, about getting internships, about getting jobs.

But many have requested I publish my 10 tips for getting a great job.  These are very simple and basic, but you’d be surprised at how many people blow an interview by not following these simple principles.

So here they are:

1)   Have 6 great campaigns in your portfolio (website and PDF).  You are only as good as the worst thing in your portfolio. You need at least 6 great campaigns. Your interviewers will probably only look at 2 or 3 campaigns.  But you need at least 6.  If you don’t have 6, get to work.

2)   Control the conversation. Make sure your portfolio or website is set-up in a way that you control where the viewer goes. If you leave it up to me, I may look at the worst work in your portfolio by chance. Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure I see your best work.

3)   Research. Know as much as you can about the agency and their work. And absolutely know as much as you can about the person interviewing you. Google is an amazing tool for interviewing. Use it.

4)   Hire a proofreader. Nobody knows more about typos than me. But you can lose a job opportunity because of a typo in your resume or in your work. Trust me, you can’t see your own mistakes. Your brain fills in the correct word. Hire a friend. Pay them in pizza. Do their laundry. But have someone proof your work.

5)   Rehearse. Practice, practice, practice. Know what you want to say about yourself, your campaigns, the agency, even your life story. Talk out loud. Have a friend interview you. Video the interview. Watch yourself. You may notice something you want to hide.

6)   Know what you’re wearing before the morning of the interview. I can’t tell you how many people wear completely inappropriate things to an interview. If you have to tug on your skirt – it’s too short. If you have to pull up in the neckline – it’s too low. If you can’t sit on the floor and be comfortable, you’re wearing the wrong thing. Wear what you would wear on your first day of work – and then make it a little nicer. No suits. No party dresses. Something fun. Interesting. Stylish.  Your first advertising campaign is yourself. How do you want to package it? How do you want people to remember you?  Consider everything.

7)   Prepare questions. I asked everyone I meet if they have any questions. If they have none, I don’t hire them. People who are really interested in a job have questions. Prepare 3 to 4 questions. Write them down if you have to. Bring a pad.  But ask something.

8)   Don’t be boring. Advertising is not a career for boring people. Have a story. Have an interesting hobby. Ask fun and interesting questions. Make it up if you have to. After all, I’ve just met you; I don’t know anything about you. But don’t just sit there.  An agency should be made up of interesting people. If you’re boring, don’t apply.

9)   Don’t be late. Pretty self-explanatory.

10) Intern and never leave. The best way to get hired is to intern and never leave. Some students graduate and won’t accept a summer internship. That’s foolish. We hire many of our summer interns. Intern at an agency where you want a full time job, and plan on staying. Move in. Work your internship like it’s a full time job.

There you have it. Pretty simple stuff. Think of it as a checklist for interviewing.

Good luck. And if I see you, you’ll be ready.



Let me introduce you to ‘Brian’ from the Hotel Skylar

Did you ever meet someone who instantly ruined an entire experience with their attitude? You know, someone in a position of power who thinks it’s their job to tell you they’re in charge? If this sounds familiar, then you’ve met someone like ‘Brian’ the front desk clerk at the Hotel Skylar.

Yesterday, I was in Syracuse, New York to speak with the advertising students of Syracuse University and help them learn from my experience and provide some wisdom about advertising. Tips on how to get a job. Introduce them to the wonders of healthcare advertising. You know, helping them see what’s possible in their future.

My first meeting with the students was at 5 PM. When I arrived at the hotel at 2:05 PM, Brian informed me that I couldn’t check-in, since check-in time began at 3 PM.  He didn’t look to see if my room happened to be ready. He didn’t even ask me for my name. He just saw someone approaching the front desk with a suitcase and decided that I must be trying to check-in.

I told him I would wait, and sat quietly in the corner of the lobby reading and responding to e-mails.

After 10 minutes, he came over and asked if I’d like something to drink or eat. I thought, OK, maybe he’s not a total jerk. I told him I’d love a bottle of water. He pointed to a little room, where they sold drinks and snacks. “Water? We sell that, help yourself and I can charge it to your room.” He continued, “we also sell premium coffee or you can have the cheap stuff for free.” Isn’t that special. He’s trying to up sell me on drinks while I’m waiting to check in.

“Ahhh, no thank you.”

It’s now 2:20 PM, Brian comes over again and suggests I walk around campus while I’m waiting. “Wouldn’t you like to stroll around campus? It’s just outside the front door.” I once again declined. I was happy to sit and read e-mail. Even though I was getting very thirsty.

Fifteen more minutes go by. 2:35 PM. Brian comes over and informs me that my room is now ready for early check-in, if I’d like to check-in now. I told him I’d be over in a minute, once I finished reading e-mail.  At 2:40 PM I came over to the desk. Filled out the paper work. Got my room key. Then Brian said something incredible.

He said, “Mr. Levy, we’re going to waive to early check-in fee for you today.”

Excuse me? You were going to charge me an early check-in fee for 20 minutes? Really? I can’t believe how kind he was. I’m shocked that he had the authorization to make that call on his own. Perhaps we should check with senior management at the hotel just to make sure we’re not getting poor Brian in trouble.

So I decided to call the 800 number to check the policy.  Sure enough, the woman on the phone told me that there was indeed a 3 PM check-in time and there would be no exceptions. But then I asked, “Lets say I showed up at 2:30 PM and the room was available, could I pay to check-in early?” She thought for a moment then said, “Sir, I’m sure if the room was available, we’d let you check-in” And the cost? “Sir, there would be no additional cost to you.”

So Brian, what were you trying to pull? Did you think that by giving me something for nothing, I would feel better about my experience? “Wow, that guy let me check-in 20 minutes early, and didn’t charge me.”

I can’t let this go. Brian, I can’t let you waive the mysterious check-in fee. So, I’m going to pay for my 20 minutes. Since the room was $189/night – with a check-in at 3 PM, and check-out at 11 AM – that means the room is mine for 20 hours.  That’s $189, divide it by 20 hours, and you get $9.45/hour. Since I’m only using the room for and additional 20 minutes, you divide again by .33 and get $3.12.

Yes Brian, I’m sending the Hotel Skylar a check for $3.12. I will write you a personal note of apology. I don’t know what I was thinking, you know, trying to check-in early.

I also plan to write a little review on and any other website that asks for hotel recommendations. So how was the hotel? It was fine. How was the service? Do you really need to ask?

Oh, and by the way – I think my speech was great.