Why do we think that listeners want to hear about coffee? Well, to start with, just about everybody in the world drinks coffee, and a lot of it! Coffee is so heavily consumed that it’s total consumption in Europe and the U.S. is about 1/3 the consumption of WATER! Futhermore, around 7 million metric tons of coffee are produced each year and the average America spends just over $1000 dollars on coffee every year. So yeah, chances are you have tried and continue to drink it on a regular basis. At the same time, it’s hard to drum up a scintillating conversation about coffee. So have a listen to our latest podcast and learn some fun facts about the world’s favorite beverage. Plus, we interview a local coffee enthusiast and former barista about how to handle yourself at your local coffee house. Thanks for listening!coffee_guy_nw

How To Be More Memorable


memorableSo I’m going to blatantly rip off a post from a great website called Art of Manliness. It’s a guest post from John Corcoran and is about how to be more memorable. As I read it, I realized it was a great follow up to my pillar several months ago on ‘how to win friends and influence people.’ If you remember that podcast, it focused very much on remembering other people and treating them with respect and attention. This is the other side of that coin, on how you can help others remember you.

John has written a series of guest posts for Art of Manliness and also has a free e-book that you can download about networking.

Here are some strategies for approaching common questions differently – We’ll start with what’s your name:

  1. Repeat your answer: This works great for ‘what’s your name.’ This is the exact parallel strategy that we talked about in the How to Win Friends and Influence people post – but from the other side. Throughout the conversation, make it easy for that person to remember your name by repeating it subtly. “I was really nervous about getting here on time, but I said to myself, ‘Mitch – you are early everywhere you go – don’t worry about it”
  2. If you have an unusual name, explain the origin as an excuse to repeat it. Don’t just explain it, but SAY it again. This one is just pure science that repetition will help the person burn it into their brains.
  3. Tell a story about how you got your name: The example Corcoran uses is if your name is Steve, (boring) but you were named after Steve McQueen the actor, you might say: “My dad was a huge fan of Steve McQueen’s movies back when I was born. My mom was dead set against it, but they made a deal where he got to name me Steve, and she got to name my sister Anne, after the character in her favorite book, Anne of Green Gables.”
  4. Create a personal association: You hear this one a lot – where you’ll introduce yourself and they’ll say “Oh, I have an uncle named Chad.” (I never quite believe them when I hear this) but nonetheless, they are trying to remember you, so you can help them by asking them some questions about their uncle. Also gives you an excuse to say the name again? “Oh, and where does your uncle Chad live?” Whether or not they’re bullshitting you, they’ll have to answer and remember that your name is Chad.


Let’s tackle the question of ‘What do you do?’

  1. This one is genius – ask a question back. So a lot of people, myself included ask this question, and then no matter what the person tells them, it’s gone in one ear and out the other and I’ve already stopped listening/remembering. Asking a question back is a way to snap them out of this cycle. So someone ask me what I do for a living.

“So you remember back in 2007 when the stock market totally tanked, and hedge funds got blamed for all of the shady investments that people like Bernie Madoff were making? So hedge funds still exists, but now these super rich people that invest in them want a company like mine to handle certain parts of their business, so that they don’t get into that same trouble again. I work on technology projects in that space.”

This is better than saying “I’m an IT consultant for a Hedge Fund Administrator”

  1. Be clear and avoid trying to be overly clever: This basically boils down to knowing – or taking your best guess at your audience. So the answer I gave above would work on most of my peers, but when I used to talk with my grandparents about my job, I told them I work on a computers for a bank. Cater your level of specificity to your audience so they are more likely to remember.


Finally, the question: ‘Where are you from’

  1. Be a black sheep in a sea of white sheep. Rather than just saying – “I’m from the Minneapolis area” – I might say something like “I’m from Minnepolis – And I just found out that we have more golfers per capita than any other city in the US – which is wild because we are in pretty much a deep freeze 4 months out of the year”


Thanks for listening – send along any other great tips you may know about how to be more memorable!



Car Sharing


images-2I recently spent some time in Portland for a friend’s wedding.  A big group of us went and we needed to rent a couple of cars.  After talking about how expensive the car was to rent, it was suggested by a listener that we should do a podcast about car sharing.  Well – here is that podcast.

Car sharing is all over the place in Minneapolis, but I’ve never gotten close enough to using a car share to actually look into how they work or what they cost.  I decided to take a quick peek into 3 local options in Minneapolis:  Car2Go, ZipCar, and HourCar.  ZipCar and Car2Go are likely available in your area too if you live in a metropolitan area – check out their websites to see full availability.

All 3 companies do things a little differently, but the basic premise is the same.  You don’t have a car, but you need one, sometimes with zero notice.  Car2Go allows you to check your phone to see if any cars are available near you.  If you are lucky enough to be close to one, just walk up to it, swipe your Car2GoPass, and you are off.  ZipCar and HourCar have convenient fixed pick-up locations around town.  Reserve one, and pick it up from one of those locations.

When you are finished, leave your Car2Go in a valid parking spot (no need to return it to where you got it!), or return your ZipCar/HourCar back to the location you picked it up from.  Pretty simple stuff.

The Main factor that differentiates these 3 companies is the pricing structure.  ZipCar and HourCar have monthly/annual subscription models, and then charge around 8 bucks an hour or so while you are driving their vehicles.  Car2Go has a 38 cents per minute price that makes it really attractive for shorter trips, but also has hourly and daily rates if you need it longer.  2 plans cost money to join – 35 bucks for Car2Go and 25 bucks for ZipCar.  I couldn’t find an initiation fee for HourCar, so I can’t confirm if it is free or not (I doubt it).

Comparing the per minute/hour/mile/day pricing can be a bit of a hassle, I go into all the details in this episode.  Zach Shaner from the Seattle Transit Blog also did some similar research last summer and published a cool chart to help visualize some of the comparisons between Car2Go and ZipCar.  As you can see, with a cheap per minute rate but a more expensive per hour rate – Car2Go is a great deal for very short trips (< 25 minutes).  If you are using one quite often and use it for more than 25 minutes or so, you may want to look into one of the monthly plans from ZipCar or HourCar.


Check out the detailed pricing structures at their websites!

The Zipper Merge


What is The Zipper Merge?

The Zipper Merge, also called the late merge is a method for merging traffic into a reduced number of lanes. It is most effectively used in situations where there is a large amount of traffic.


What does the zipper merge accomplish?

Interesting, the zipper merge has not been found to increase the number of vehicles that pass a point over a given time period. But it does significantly reduce the length of the backup line (by up to 40%) and most importantly reduces the difference in speed between the two lanes, which improves safety.

One problem with the zipper merge is that it goes against what most people think is the polite way to merge into a single lane. In an effort to ease the concerns of your average driver, many states have campaigns to promote the zipper merge and in Belgium drivers are required by law to use the zipper merge! Two U.S. states that have published statements on the zipper merge are Washington and Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation actually has a statement regarding the zipper merge. Sue Groth, MnDOT traffic safety and technology director was recently quoted saying “raising awareness for motorists to use the zipper merge in construction zones will help reduce crashes, speeds and congestion.” The zipper merge is even mentioned in the MN state drivers license manual.


The zipper merge code of conduct:

  1. Continue as long as possible on the merging lane;
  2. At about 300 meters before the bottleneck (marked with a traffic sign), adjust to the speed of the vehicles driving on the adjacent lane;
  3. Vehicles driving on the adjacent lane deliberately make room for the merging vehicle;
  4. At about 50 meters before the bottleneck, without braking or disturbance of the created space, the vehicle merges. Thus the merging vehicle and the vehicle behind it can continue their ride.


Where’s the data you ask? Check out this report from Wayne State University which was submitted to the Michigan DOT in 2007.

Their findings are summarized as follows: normal work zones with lane closures, drivers do not merge at any one definite point, thus causing sudden interruption in traffic flow and sometimes higher delay. The dynamic late lane merge system (DLLMS) was used to identify a definite merge point, improve the flow of the congested freeway work zones and reduce queue lengths in the freeway travel lanes. During the 2006 construction season, the DLLMS was implemented on three freeway segments in southern Michigan. Each work zone segment involved a lane closure from two to one lane. Based on the travel time characteristics, queue, merge locations, and throughput, the effectiveness of the DLLMS was evaluated by the Wayne State University Transportation Research Group. Before period data was not available, so a conventional work zone merge system located on EB I-94 was used as a control site for the WB I-94 test site. Since the two I-69 test sites are approximately 150 miles away from the EB I-94 control site, the I-94 control site could not be used as a control for the I-69 sites. When comparing the I-94 control and test sites, the presence of the DLLMS improved the flow of traffic and increased the percentage of merging vehicles that merge.

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Reality Rush


This episode we welcome Justin Walter of Reality Rush to GGTK. We chat about his company that puts on competitive events based on reality TV game shows, geek out about survivor, and spend some time recapping the ‘Outlast’ challenge he put on for Mitch’s birthday a few weeks ago. Follow him on facebook/twitter/instagram – and if you haven’t watched Survivor since the first season – GET BACK IN THE GAME!

Recognize any Good Guys in this pic? **SPOILER ALERT IN THE CAPTION OF THIS PICTURE**

Mitch is about to get voted out of his own birthday party at this Tribal council…

Happy 4th of July!


I’ve been celebrating the 4th of July forever. Going to the lake and lighting off some fireworks was always a fun time growing up, and still is today. I’d like to talk about some of the basic history of the 4th of July.

The 4th of July is obviously our Independence Day. Independence of course from Great Britain, duh, but what happened on July 4th that made it a federal holiday. The answer has some interesting history. The declaration of independence, written (mostly by Thomas Jefferson) in 1776. On July 2nd 1776, the continental congress actually voted in favor of independence from Great Britain. Prominent figures from that time actually cited July 2nd as our day of independence.

John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence, and would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest. Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826–the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

He (John Adams) once wrote his wife, “July 2 “will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival” and that the celebration should include “Pomp and Parade…Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

The continental Congress formally adopted the declaration of independence on July 4th, 1776.

Early celebrations were actually similar to how we do things today, with concerts, bonfires, artillery fire and PUBLIC READINGS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. George Washington even gave double rations of rum to the soldiers on July 4th on 2 separate occasions (1778 and 1781).

Congress didn’t make July 4th a national holiday until 1870. It was made a federal paid holiday for government employees in 1941.

The FIFA World Cup


The World Cup is an international soccer competition among the national teams of members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, also known as FIFA. This championship is played every four years and was first played in 1930. The only years that the world cup was not played were in 1942 and 1946, due to World War 2. Currently the world cup is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world. The cumulative audience of the 2006 worldcup was an estimated 26.29 billion people and more than 715 million people watched the final match alone, which at the time was about 1/9th of the entire planet! 32 national teams qualify for the tournament with one spot saved for the host country. Only 8 teams have ever won the world cup including Brazil, West Germany, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, England, France and Spain.


The honor of hosting the first ever World Cup in 1930 was awarded to Uruguay partly because they had won the last two Olympic gold medals and partly because Uruguay was celebrating its 100th Anniversary of Independence (Oh yeah, and they agreed to cover all of the costs, including travel and accommodation for participating teams). However, it was not easy to convince the best European teams to travel halfway across the world to play soccer. Travel involved a long sea journey for players and it also meant that their local clubs would have to excuse their most prized players to make the trip. However, President Jules Rimet convinced France, Romania, Belgium and Yugoslavia to partake in the inaugural competition. Uruguay went on the win the first ever World Cup but harbored a huge grudge against many of the European sides who refused to travel to compete. The following world cup competition was held in Italy and Uruguay returned the favor by refusing to travel making them the only country to not defend their title in the following World Cup.


Then came World War 2, which caused the cancellation of multiple World Cup tournaments. After the war the FIFA Congress met again and awarded hosting rights to Brazil. Also at that meeting, Jules Rimet was honored for his role as the President of FIFA for over 25 years. In recognition of his achievements, the FIFA World Cup Trophy was renamed the Jules Rimet Cup.


The Jules Rimet Cup has a fascinating history. French sculptor Abel Lafeur was commissioned by Jules Rimet to create the statue for the first World Cup in 1930. It is a gold-plated statue of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. It was awarded to Uruguay after they won the first World Cup but returned to Italy for 8 years up until the start of World War 2. Adolf Hitler ordered his forces to find certain desirable artifacts to add to his power including the Holy Grail, the Spear of Destiny and the Jules Rimet Cup. Italian football commissioner Ottorino Barassi had other plans and stole the trophy from it’s hiding place in a bank and hid it in a shoebox under his bed until the war was over. In 1966 it was on display in London and disappeared. It was later found by Pickles, a border collie in a garden hedge. In 1983, the trophy was stolen from a bullet-proof glass case in the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro. There was a desperate search for the trophy but the trophy was never found and today is still regarded as one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in sports history (the holy grail to football fanatics). Two arrests were made in Brazil but both men were released. One of them was later found dead, murdered due to his possible involvement in the heist. In 1970, a new World Cup trophy was commissioned but winners are not given possession of that trophy. They are awarded replicas of the trophy which is held by FIFA.

Has the USA ever won a World Cup? The answer is no. There best finish was actually in the 1930 World Cup where they finished in 3rd place. The USMNT played in many of the early World Cup competitions but failed to qualify between 1950 and 1990. Since then, they have qualified for every World Cup. In 2002 they made it to the quarterfinals where they lost to Germany. This was the best finish for the USMNT since 1930. In both 2002 and 2006, the USMNT was knocked out of the tournament by Ghana. But just a few days ago, on June 16th, 2014, we finally had our redemption by beating Ghana 2-1 in the first came of group play. Our next group matches are against heavy favorites Portugal and Germany. The USMNT plays Portugal at 5pm on Sunday June 22nd, 2014 and Germany at 11am on Thursday June 26th. Both games will be aired on ESPN.









Roads likely began as paths that were used by animals, humans, or both, and the first road improvements were pretty simple – take a tree out here and a rock out there to make the journey a little easier.


Eventually, the paths widened or became flattened out, and large networks of the most popular paths were created.  Some of the oldest known roads seem to have popped up around 5000 BC, when the wheel is thought to have been invented in mesopotamia.  Since then, they’ve been a crucial part of expanding civilizations throughout the world.


The Incan empire contained nearly 14,000 miles of roads.  The Romans had a network of over 50,000 miles.  Today, the US has about 4 million miles of roads and streets.  Roads provide access for trade, travel, communication, and military movement, and are a pivotal piece of any advanced society.


It’s not clear where the oldest road in the US is (because it depends on your definition of a road), but one of the earliest is the Natchez trace – which started as an animal trail and was adopted by humans for a number of later purposes.


Roads in the US:


As the US expanded, a number of well-worn trails were created.  At that point, they were primarily dirt paths that guided travelers over mountain passess, across swamps, and through forests.  You may recognize some of them: Wilderness Road, The Oregon Trail, and The Mormon Trail are just a few.  As our road network expanded, toll roads cropped up, and improvements were made to the main thoroughfares to allow for repetitive use by big wagons.  Unfortunately, progress slowed down in the late 19th century due the advent of the steam engine and the resultant railway system which gave rise to the Vanderbilt name.  Roads would eventually get a revival from an unexpected place.


In the late 1800s, bicycles were all the rage, and many towns and cities actually had bicycle clubs.  One of the more famous clubs – The League of American Wheelman – started the “Good Roads Movement”.  They were funded by Albert Pope, who was the CEO of Columbia Bicycles, the leading brand of the day.  Due to the fact that roads were largely considered a local concern, and the fact that railroads were the most efficient mode of connecting distant places, roads were run down and made bicycling pretty difficult.  Pope and his “wheelman” collected 150,000 signatures on two huge rolls of paper and delivered them to Washington stating that roads should be a national interest, and as such, should be funded by the federal government.  Congress agreed to appropriate $10,000 and create a new group – the federal highway association – to oversee the construction and maintenance of roads in the US.  Pope continued to fund the evolution of America’s roads by offering a number of engineering prizes to inventors that could improve existing road technology.  He was certainly one of the most influential men in the history of the US road system.


We’ll skip over Ford, who obviously added some important inventions to our national transportation system, and talk about Eisenhower next.  Most people associate our national highway system with President Eisenhower, appropriately so, because it was his Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 that created many of today’s interstates.  He seems to have been inspired by the autobahn in Germany and its use during WW2, and hoped to develop a similar system in the US that could be used not only for commerce, but also in times of emergency.  The project was immense, and equated to about $425 billion in today’s dollars.  At this point, it’s estimated that about 25% of all US auto travel is on one of these interstates.


Road technology continues to develop, and roads need constant upkeep.  One of the more interesting aspects of current road production is the battle between concrete (American Concrete Pavement Association) and asphalt (Asphalt Pavement Alliance).  Next time you’re waiting in road construction, consider what the new road will be made of, and why a particular area may have chosen that product.


Here’s a great list of road FAQs from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association:


Safe travels!