This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO sMoRTy71.com -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Unemployment is imminent
I got laid off from my job today. After almost 9 years and many (many) rounds of layoffs during the first bubble, my number finally came up. Strangely, I am feeling a huge sense of relief right now.

After going to SXSW, I had already made the decision that I needed to either find a new job or make Profilactic my job. I even had offers for some great positions In Austin and Boston. However, I couldn't quite make myself take that crucial first step in either direction.

Today, however, I got a not-so-subtle nudge that I needed and it feels much different than I expected it would. Sure, I'm upset about not getting to work with the great group of friends that I've made over the past 9 years; however, I'm also energized about having more time to dedicate to something I am truly passionate about.

Of course, I think all of the support I've gotten from friends and family has helped a lot. I've answered at least 50 e-mails, Twitter direct messages or phone calls this evening from people wishing me well and encouraging me to take Profilactic to the next level.

My last day in the office is Friday. After that, I will be taking a couple of weeks off before diving in to the startup world with both feet.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Guitar Hero on Tour

I am all over this! Just don't expect me to do that ridiculous dance... in public anyway.
Forge Louisville Mar. '08 event recap
Last night, Forge Louisville held their larger, quarterly event at Primo in downtown Louisville. I attended the first one back in November of last year and it was a good time, so I was eager to get this group together again.

I arrived at around 5:45pm and the place was already packed. According to John Williamson, about 95 people signed up for the event. That's pretty amazing considering there was a $25 cover charge.

The agenda for the event was pretty simple -- a couple of speeches from established local entrepreneurs, lots of networking, wine and food. It's not exactly beer and Guitar Hero, but I made it work.

Upon walking in the door, I ran into Michelle Jones of Forge Louisville and Mathias Kolehmainen from Telemics. From there, I had conversations with old GLI pal Tom McMahon who now runs an angel fund through Growth Services, Michael Schnuerle about this photo, David Watson from Frost Brown Todd with whom we discussed licensing agreements, Lesa Seibert who introduced me to the guys from Label X, Joe Wheeler, Todd Earwood, Rob May and Josh Rosenthal who recounted his snowy drive to Austin for SXSW.

About midway through the event, Matt Winn introduced the featured speakers: Tom Noland who is SVP of Corporate Communications from Humana, Tom Cottingham who founded the Cobb Group and TechRepublic and Andy Swan who founded DaytradeTeam.com and MyTrade.com.

Following the speakers, I talked to Tom Cottingham and Matt Winn (separately) about Profilactic and Heath Gross of the Sedulo Group about video game business ideas. I also finally got to meet web designer and Wordpress guru Chris Pearson and Carson McDonald of Mission Data. Carson and the rest of the Profilactic team geeked out on talk of Java, Ruby on Rails, PHP and web hosting.

Unfortunately, I saw lots of people I wanted to talk to, like Lenny Grover from Chrysalis Ventures, Nick Huhn from Yum! Brands and Eddie Babbage from Resonant Vibes, but wasn't able to. Maybe next time.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
LEGO hooks Miles up
My son Miles is a LEGO fanatic. He talks about and builds LEGOs all the time. When he isn't doing that, he is designing LEGO sets on LEGO.com. He even wants to be a LEGO engineer when he grows up.

When Davis Freeberg saw the photo of Miles playing with LEGOs on his St. Baldrick's page, he sent a note to LEGO asking if they could help Miles reach his $400 goal.

LEGO already has a corporate charity that they support; however, they told Davis that they would send something to Miles to recognize his good deed.

Yesterday, a package arrived for Miles from LEGO. It contained a certificate signed by the president of LEGO as well as 3 awesome LEGO sets.

Miles' package from LEGO

I don't think I've ever seen Miles as excited or happy as he was last night. He was absolutely thrilled.

Miles is thrilled!

So, thanks to Davis Freeberg and to LEGO for giving Miles an experience that he will never forget. We really, really appreciate it!
SMC Louisville March '08 event recap
Had a great time at last night's Social Media Club event. This one, the group's third, was hosted by CNET and was meant to be more of a mixer/networking event. In addition to a variety of tasty snacks and beverages, we had two HDTVs pumping out XBOX 360 and Wii games.

SMC Louisville: The crowd starts to gather

Rock Band was a pretty big hit. I only sat in on a couple of sessions; however, there was steady stream of people willing to get their rock on.

SMC Louisville: Jamming on Rock Band

We ended up with around 30-35 people showing up. Not everyone signed in, so this is a partial list of attendees: Jason Falls, Joe Hayden of S.G. Priest, Brian Herbert from CNET, Beth Blakely from CNET, Tom Osborne from CNET, Chris Hamm from CNET, Jeremy Lwanga from CNET, Ian Seibert of Xstreme Media, Lesa Seibert of Xstreme Media, Gregg Seibert of Xstreme Media, Michelle Jones of Consuming Louisville, Lenny Grover of Chrysalis Ventures, Roger Bauer of Zing Sales Solutions, Rob May, Todd Earwood of Simple Media, Joe Bennett, Amy Causey of Russell's Group, Michael Schnuerle of MetroMapper, Susan Gosselin of Gosselin Communications, Ben Thomas of Louisville Geek Dinner, Meg Ivey of the National Center for Family Literacy, Melissa King of Yum! Brands, Stephen Harmon of Stephen Harmon Photography, Scott Clark of Websiteadvice.com and Doug Petch of Arc Performance Group.

The next SMC event will be on April 15, so get your taxes done early. No location has been set yet, so stay tuned.

See more on my SMC photos here. Michelle Jones has some photos here.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Social Media Club & Forge Louisville this week
There are a couple of cool events planned this week for social media professionals and startup entrepreneurs in Louisville this week.

On Tuesday night, the Social Media Club is hosting their March event at our CNET offices. This one is all about networking, mingling and having fun. We're going to have two HDTVs pumping out XBOX 360 (Guitar Hero, Rock Band) and Wii games (Wii Sports, Super Smash Bros. Brawl). Plus, we'll have beer, sodas and snacks. If you're into social media, you should check it out. RSVP at the Facebook group.

On Wednesday night, Forge Louisville will be having their big quarterly event at Primo. As with the kickoff event back in November of 2007, there will be networking, wine, appetizers and presentations from local entrepreneurs:

"We’ve lined up a couple top-notch serial entrepreneurs to share glory stories and entertain: (1) Tom Cottingham, who co-founded The Cobb Group (sold to Ziff-Davis), co-founded and ran TechRepublic (sold to Gartner and now operating as a CNET property), and most recently co-founded the NarrowCast Group, and (2) Andy Swan, who, along with brother Landon, is just coming off a multi-million dollar sale of MyTrade to thinkorswim (a sub of Investools) less than a year after selling their prior company, DaytradeTeam. These two will either leave you in stitches (laughing) or running to form another LLC, hopefully both."

There is a $25 cover charge that covers the use of the restaurant, wine and appetizers. There will also be a dinner after the event for those who want to stick around.

I'll be at both events, so look for linktastic blog recaps, photos and video later in the week.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Miles shaved his head for St. Baldrick's!
As I mentioned earlier in the week, Miles decided to shave his head to raise money for children's cancer research.

In just a couple of days, he raised his $400 goal, so today we went down to Fourth Street Live in Louisville to get his head shaved.

There was a big crowd on hand and we had to wait in line for nearly an hour; however, it was all worth it. Miles had a great time and he loves his new look.

miles_before_after

Thanks to everyone who donated money to make Miles' goal. We really appreciate it. You can check out our photos from the event here.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
There's nothing like an IKEA opening
I returned from SXSW at around 10pm on Tuesday night. The plan was to get up really, really early on Wednesday morning to head to the grand opening of IKEA West Chester just outside Cincinnati (which is around 90 minutes from Louisville). This is now the closest IKEA to us. Previously, we would have to drive 4 hours to get our inexpensive, Scandinavian-inspired home furnishings from the IKEA in Schaumburg, IL.

Unfortunately, I couldn't drag myself out of bed until around 9am, so we didn't make it to IKEA until around noon.

By that time, the entire area around the store was a madhouse. Traffic was backed up to I-75, the police were called in to direct traffic and an entire team of people were brought in just to route cars into the parking lot. Fortunately, we were swerve around some orange cones and slip into a newly-vacant parking spot right near the front of store.

Finally, an IKEA close by

Outside, there were news crews and tons of gawkers milling around; however, inside, it was the IKEA that we all know and love :) For the opening event, they had magicians, facepainting and balloons for the kids. Mahlon got a balloon shaped like a sword, Miles got one like a snake (complete with red tongue) and Mira got a balloon man.

After shopping for about an hour, we grabbed some lunch in the IKEA restaurant. The line there made the line at the Google Party at SXSW seem reasonable. You can't really complain, though, when a family of 6 can eat (and get two free "Free coffee for life" IKEA travel mugs) for $18.

Eating lunch at IKEA

We only had a couple of items on our shopping list; however, we still managed to spend about $175. Of course, we've spent 5-10 times as much on previous trips, so I consider myself pretty lucky.

The checkout lines were ridiculous

Once we checked out, the biggest challenge was fighting through the crowd to get out the door and to our van.

Overall, it was a fun trip and it's good to finally have an IKEA close by.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Miles is shaving his head for St. Baldrick's
While I was in Austin for SXSW, my son Miles, who is 7, decided that he wanted to help the St. Baldrick's Foundation and shave his head to raise money for cancer research.

Miles' great grandmother just passed away from cancer a few months ago, so this is something that means a lot to him right now. Here is what he said on his St. Baldrick's page:

"Hi. This is Miles in Louisville, KY. I am seven years old and just lost my Nana to cancer. Please help me to fight cancer in kids."

He has already surpassed his first goal of $200. In fact, he did that in less than 24 hours. He has bumped that goal up to $400.

If you'd like to help Miles achieve his goal and help a great cause in the process, please do so here.

We're still trying to coordinate a group shave with other St. Baldrick's participants. I'll be sure to post photos and video of the whole event.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
SXSWi 2008 Tuesday recap
After an early night on Monday, I was able to get up early, get packed and check out of my hotel by 9am. I checked my bags with the bellman at Jason Fall's hotel and we headed to the Convention Center.

Jason Falls and Jeremiah Owyang
Jason Falls tells Jeremiah Owyang how we do it in Louisville

We got to the BlogHaus very early and got a great seat at one of the large tables. This is where I stayed for the next 3 hours. Had a ton of great conversations. I also met some new people including Peter Corbett, who created the new IHeartCavemen.com site for GEICO and who took one of the Cavemen out partying last night, David Seah, Baratunde Thurston, Andrew Hyde of VC Wear, Mack Collier, Ryan Block of Engadget and Jackie Huba of Church of the Customer Blog.

One of the highlights for me was winning the AMD BlogHaus Guitar Hero Challenge. I actually performed yesterday; however, the contest continued until around noon today. Right before Jason and I had to take off for the airport, Scott Carroll from AMD presented me with my prize -- the world's fastest video card with a one-of-a-kind paint job.

Getting my prize from AMD
Me getting my prize from Scott Carroll at AMD. It is the ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2.

Since we were running a little late, Jason and I quickly headed back to his hotel to grab our bags. Outside, we ran into Stef Lewandowski and Peter Ashton.

Because the bellman recognized Jason and I as high rollers, he volunteered to take us to the airport in the Hilton's Suburban rather than have us take a cab. Very cool.

At the airport, we headed to Salt Lick BBQ, which we were told is the best BBQ in town. We ran into Jeremiah Owyang from Forrester and J.J. Toothman from Stanford.

As Jason and I approached our departure gate, we see Scott Monty who we spent a lot of time with at SXSW. He told him about seeing Jeremiah. He then told us about he had just had lunch with Guy Kawasaki. Well played, sir. Well played.

Jason and I got back to Louisville at around 9:30p. I need to sleep for about 3 days; however, we're heading to the opening of the Cincinnati IKEA inside. Ugh.
Monday, March 10, 2008
SXSWi 2008 Monday recap
I eased into Monday's sessions after sleeping in a bit on Monday morning. I got to the Convention Center around 10:15am and spent the next hour or so hanging out at the BlogHaus with Jason Falls, Stowe Boyd, Jeremiah Owyang, Allen Stern of Center Networks, Micah Baldwin of Lijit and Scott Monty.

Jeremiah Owyang and Jason Falls in the BlogHaus
Jeremiah Owyang and Jason Falls in the BlogHaus

At 11:30a, I attended the future of consumer electronics session that was moderated by Robert Scoble and featured Jim Louderback and reps from Sling Media, Seagate and Logitech. Ryan Block and Veronica Belmont were there. I even joined in the Q&A near the end and got into the social opportunities for electronics makers to bake into their software.

After the session, I chatted with Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library TV, Jim Louderback of Revision3, Rob Greenlee of Microsoft and Loren Feldman before I grabbed lunch with Charlie O'Donnell, CEO of Path 101, and Melissa King from YUM! Brands.

Jim Louderback, Gary Vaynerchuk, AJ Vaynerchuk, Loren Feldman and Valerie Cunningham
Jim Louderback, Gary and A.J. Vaynerchuk, Loren Feldman and Valerie Cunningham watch the Elliot Spitzer announcement live

I went back to the BlogHaus at 3pm to compete in AMD's Guitar Hero competition. As of this writing, I am in the lead with 253K points. If I win, I get a limited edition ATI video card that is valued at $500. Not bad.

Micah and I rock Guitar Hero
Micah from Lijit and I play some Guitar Hero at the BlogHaus

Around 6pm, Jason Falls, Todd Earwood, Nikki Key, Melissa King, Nick Huhn, Scott Monty and I went to P.F. Chang's for dinner. Had a great time.

SXSWi 2008: Federated Media & Dell party

After dinner, we headed to the Federated Media/Dell Conversation Starters event at the Iron Cactus. The crowd included Mehrshad and Peter from Bug Labs, Jeremiah Owyang, Robert Scoble, Shel Israel, Peter Rojas, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Bostjan Spetic of Zemanta, Jake McKee and Caroline McCarthy. Met Kick Apps developer Haylie McCort, Lauren Bigelow of WeeWorld, Jared Goralnick of SET Consulting and Jordan Behan of Strutta.

After the party, I called it an early night and went back to my hotel to pack and get some much needed rest.
SXSWi 2008 Sunday recap
Sunday was the busiest day of the conference so far. It started with an early breakfast with Jason Falls, Richard McInnis, Nick Huhn and Marcel LeBrun, CEO of Radian6.

From there, we hit the Convention Center for the rest of the day for a mix of sessions (Charlene Li of Forrester's talk to Social Media; Designing for Freedom with Anil Dash and others) and hanging out at the AMD BlogHaus.

The highlight of the day for me was challenging Freddie Wong, the #1 Guitar Hero player in the world, in a Guitar Hero III battle. Of the 15-20 competitors, I finished 3rd. We played Talk Dirty to Me on Expert. I ended up getting 82% of his score. He didn't miss a note.



After that, we met with lots of great people at a variety of events. I went to the Iron Cactus with Eric Marcoullier. There, I ran into Stef Lewandowski who is part of a group in from the UK that is using Profilactic to aggregate all of their SXSW posts. He did a podcast with me about Profilactic. From there, I went with him to the Red-Eyed Fly for the 8th annual Fray Cafe. Got to meet Peter Ashton and Joanna Geary, who are traveling from the UK with Stef, and hang out with Ewan Spence.

Eventually I ended up at the Blogger party and had a blast talking with Brad Hunstable, the founder of Ustream.TV, Brett Wilson and Mark Rotblat from TubeMogul, J.J. Toothman, Todd Earwood and Nikki Key.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
SXSWi 2008 Saturday recap
Another action-packed, beer-soaked, sleep-deprived day in Austin. After getting 5 hours of sleep, I met Nick Huhn for breakfast at Starbucks.

We hooked up with Jason Falls and attended the Making Findable Reach Media session from Google and Adobe. Luckily, that session ended at 10:30, so Nick and I were able to make it to the KICK! 08 kickball game at nearby Palm Park.

The event was hosted by Anil Dash and Six Apart. There was a nice crowd of about 40 players including Eric Marcoullier, founder of MyBlogLog, and Josh Guttman of Sphere who we've been hanging out with throughout the conference. We played a full 7 inning game and then enjoyed complimentary breakfast tacos (Thanks, Anil!). It was an awesome event. The highlight was Eric Marcoullier kicking off his shoe and having the third baseman catch it.



After KICK!, Nick and I headed to the Making Communities that Work session with Jake McKee and others.

I cut out of that a little early with Richard McInnis to meet up with Rachel Strate of Epic Ventures and organize a lunch posse. We ended up getting myself, Richard, Rachel, Jason Falls, Todd Earwood, Nikki Key, Danielle Collins, Robb Wood and Nick Huhn together for a lunch at Champions across from the convention center. Danielle, Robb and Rachel decided not to stay and headed back to the convention center. Guess there was too much Kentucky in the room for them :)

After lunch, we headed back to the convention center to play a little Guitar Hero at the Microsoft booth. Turns out that Freddy Wong, the #1 Guitar Hero player in the world, was taking challengers. Thanks to some bragging from Todd Earwood, I was facing off against Freddy.

I held my own and lost on "Talk Dirty to Me" on Expert 280K to 220K. I feel like I did pretty well considering who I was playing and the crowd that was gathered to watch. Eventually, I was recruited by the Microsoft team to face Freddy in a more official competition tomorrow. So, I will be going for the title tomorrow at 3:20pm on one of the convention center stages. Should be fun.

After the Guitar Hero jam, I went to see Jason Fried from 37 Signals with Nick Huhn. Jason always gives a good talk even though it seemed like an abbreviation version of the Getting Real Workshop I attended a couple of years ago in Chicago.

At 5pm, Nick Huhn, Melissa King and myself made the mistake of attending the Managing the Media Blur session hosted by Forbes and Google. Ended up walking out after 20 agonizing minutes.

From there, the three of us reconnected with Jason Falls, Todd Earwood, Nikki Key, Richard McInnis and Lucas Welch of Soliya and headed to the Google party at Light.

The line to get into the party was ridiculous, so we waited about 30 minutes to get in. As we waited in line, we were able to reconnect with Eric Marcoullier, Todd Sampson, Rahmin Sarabi, Rachel Strate, Robb Good, Josh Guttman and Bostjan Spetic. Had a great time talking outside the party.

Once inside, the crowd and noise made talking nearly impossible, we decided to hit the Frog Design party instead. That turned out to be a great event -- free beer, lots of space to mingle and some really good conversations.

I talked to Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web, Pete Cashmore of Mashable, Julio Fernandez of Oracle, Scott Monty of Crayon, Jane Quigley, Cheryl Contee of Fleishman Hillard and James Gross from Federated Media.

We hooked up with Charlie O'Donnell of Path 101 and decided to head out for a very late dinner at a nice South American restaurant. On the way, I met my CNET colleague Caroline McCarthy for the first time.

After closing down the restaurant, I returned to Jason Falls' hotel to retrive my backpack. We ran into Scoble and Rocky from Fast Company in the lobby of the Hilton and ended up sharing an elevator with them.

Overall, it was a terrific day. Looking forward to getting some sleep, but will only get 6 hours at most. Oh well, I can sleep next week, right?

BTW, I will go back later and add in links to everyone's sites. I was just too tired to do it tonight.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
SXSWi 2008 Friday recap
I've been up way to long and I had a little too much beer earlier tonight, so I'll keep this brief. Had a terrific first day at SXSWi.

Jason Falls and I, after barely escaping the blizzard that struck Louisville, arrived in Austin around 3pm. After checking into our hotels, we went out for the night to get our SXSWi badges, grab some dinner, mingle and have a couple of beers.

In the process of getting our badges, we ran into a who's who of social media including Eric Marcoullier, Todd Sampson, Tamar Weinberg, Chris Heuer, CC Chapman, Veronica Belmont and Pete Cashmore. Eric Marcoullier introduced us to Bostjan Spetic of Zemanta.com, then we hooked up with Nick Huhn and Richard McInnis from Radian6.

Later, I schooled an unsuspecting guy at some Guitar Hero III which was set up in the lobby (I believe Falls has that on video).


Photo courtesy of Jason Falls



After getting our badges, we grabbed a free drink at the Registration tent before heading to Champions for an impromptu Twitter meetup. There were ran into Dave Delaney from Podcamp Nashville, Scott Monty of Crayon, C.C. Chapman (again), Krista Neher of photrade, Jeremy Wright of b5media, Ewan Spence, New Media Jim and OracleJulio. We also watched a guy play Head Like A Hole by Nine Inch Nails on an accordian.



From here the night gets a little fuzzy. We tried to go to Mix at Six; however, the line was too long. We ran into Eric Marcoullier again and he convinced our group of 10 or so to make our own party somewhere else (which we did for about 30 minutes).

Eventually we ended up at Opal Divine's Freehouse for a late dinner. By this point, we had a pretty good group with us including Todd Earwood, Nikki "Lindy" Key, Richard McInnis, Jason Falls, Nick Huhn, Josh Guttman of Sphere, Lucas Welch of Soliya, Krista Neher of photrade, Charlie O'Donnell, Alex Lines, Danielle Collins, all 3 of Path 101 and Rachel "The Gypsy" Strate of Epic Ventures. Photos from dinner are here.

Dinner was a blast. A lot of great conversations and a lot a laughs. Hoping tomorrow turns out this well.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
My tentative SXSWi 2008 schedule
Here are the sessions, parties and events I am interested in attending. There are several slots that are double or tripled booked so I'll have to figure those out later:

FridaySaturday
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday

I also hope to pop into the BlogHaus that Scoble and AMD are putting together. The BlogHaus at CES 2008 was a good time.


View Larger Map
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Heading to SXSWi this week
I am heading down to Austin on Friday morning for the South by Southwest Interactive festival.

There is a great group from Louisville going: Jason Falls from SocialMediaExplorer.com, Todd Earwood and Nikki Key from DailyIdea.tv, Nick Huhn and Melissa King from Yum!, and Joshua and Melanie Rosenthal from Sprigley. I am actually on the same flight with Jason, so it should be a fun trip to Austin.

There are quite a few people I plan to catch up with while there including Eric Marcoullier, founder of MyBlogLog and IGN.com, Eric Weaver of Edelman Digital, Jeremy Owyang from Forrester (did a phone interview with him for Forrester's report on Online Community Best Practices, but we've never met in person), Robert Scoble (we met at the BlogHaus during CES 2008) and the crew from SXSWm.

I'll be Twittering throughout the event, so follow me here.

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.