What I Learned – The Bird Scooter

For weeks now, I’ve read articles blaming The Bird Scooter for everything from congested sidewalks to world hunger.

But last weekend I was down in San Diego where hundreds of thse things can be found along the Boardwalk in Pacific and Mission Beach.

Source: Thomas Melville, SDNews.com

The concept behind the scooter is simple. Like Car2Go, you download an app and look for a nearby scooter. When you see a scooter close to you, you walk to it, then “Unlock it” using a QR code. Then you ride it where you need and “Lock it” so someone else can use it. Locked scooters are almost impossible to roll anywhere and make a beeping noise that alerts that someone is trying to steal it.

The boardwalk along Pacific Beach and Mission Beach is pretty long. It could take you 40 minutes or more to walk from a bar to your hotel. But with The Bird, you just hop on, and cruise at a nice safe 8-12 MPH, cutting your time by about 66-75%. It costs $1.00 to start it and $0.15 a minute. So it’s roughly the cost of a short Uber ride, but way more fun.

After using it for a weekend, I think the haters in San Francisco are ridiculous. I was able to navigate the scooter through pedestrians, bikers, unicyclists, skateboarders, roller bladers, and other scooter riders. My only near accident was caused by a 5 year old on his non-motorized scooter who decided to come at me head on while in my lane. But it was easy for me to stop the scooter and dodge the kid at the last minute.

Source: Thomas Melville, SDNews.com

Also, you can ride remarkably slow and still keep your balance. In fact, you can literally slow to walking speed if you see someone you know and want to travel at their pace, or see a group of pedestrians going 5-wide and blocking the entire path.

The downside: Even on a small hill, I was pretty uncomfortable, and my repressed teenage memory of crashing into a tree while trying to ride a skateboard down a hill in Bellevue suddenly re-surfaced. So, I don’t know if I’d come down from 6th to 2nd downtown. But for getting around Wallingford, Greenlake or Capitol Hill, these things would be great.

Bikers will yell and scream that you should just ride a bike instead. But really, if you are going out to dinner, do you want to get sweaty riding a bike? No, a scooter is effortless. And a bike is actually much larger than The Bird. You take up way more room on a road or bike lane.

So, what I learned is that the scooter is an effective form of short-form travel in flat areas. I’d like to see it become more prevalent up here. Ignore what the haters in San Francisco say. If they are so worried about being a pedestrian and getting hit by a scooter, then they should jump on a scooter.

What I Learned – Playing Putt-Putt with Chad Marshall

(This post is part of the continuing series called, “What I Learned.” In this series, I keep track of things that sparked my brain during different events and experiences.)

I’ve long said that the Seattle Sounders do more smart things for their fans and supporters than any team I’ve ever run across. Last week, they held a small event, hosting a pub night at a local bar near the stadium. The bar features a 9 hole indoor putt-pitt course, and as luck would have it, I got to play mini-golf with Sounders CB Chad Marshall and LM Aaron Kovar.

Both guys were great. Marshall was drinking a beer, and talking about golf and his 2 year old kid. Kovar is a friendly kid who looks like a guy you’d sit next to on a bus, going to his job at Amazon.
Of course, I didn’t think of anything really good to ask them until I was already home, but I did learn one thing. We talked a little about language barriers and how the team deals with that in training. Marshall admitted it’s a real problem for teams. Each team has interpreters on staff to translate what the coaches are saying in terms of strategy and game plans. But on the field for example, some players only speak Spanish, one only speaks French, and some – including the Goalkeeper – only speak English. So when a team is defending free kicks, basically the only words they can say to each other are “left, right, and back.”
My takeaway – whenever you see a goal scored from a free kick, especially if someone lost their mark, there was probably some sort of miscommunication between guys who speak different languages. I can only imagine what it must be like in Eurpoean leagues.

What I Learned – Chris Isaak at Chateau Ste Michelle

(This post is part of the “What I Learned” Series, in which I share things I picked up during different events and experiences.)

It seems like Chris Isaak has been around since I first learned to turn on a radio. He has a song that any casual music fan would recognize no matter where it was playing, a few that casual music fans would recognize. But if you are like me, you’d be hard-pressed to name 5 Chris Isaak songs if your life depended on it.

Chris Isaak also plays at Chateau Ste Michelle every year. It’s a beautiful place to see a show, but what could get 5,000 people to plunk down $50 every year for the same show, to see a show they’ve probably seen before?

Isaak split up his show by engaging in long conversations with his audience. He comes out in crazy sequins on his coat. He introduces his bandmates, sharing how they’ve been together for 32 years. He tells stories that seem like they are coming off the cuff, not some sort of pre-rehearsed monologue. By starting the show with an attitude of, “Let’s all have a good time together tonight,” he forms a bond with both the entire audience, and the each individual member of it.

Now I suspect that you have to do this if you are going to spend the better part of 32 years playing in front of crowds. You’d probably go crazy if you just trotted out on stage, played your songs, and then headed to the bus for the next city. But his interaction seems genuine, and in return he gets fans to return every year.

What I learned – The keys here are engagement, authenticity, and consistency. Isaak is a 32 year old brand that doesn’t have a ton of new products to offer up from year to year. But by making a true connection with the audience, and giving them a a personal experience, they are active customers. Plus, by distributing his product in the right venue every year, Chateau Ste Michelle, he gives his customers a way to consume the product that adds to the experience. Customers know exactly where to look for the date he’ll be coming to town. He’s not jumping from place to place and making customers do the hard work.

The result – a guy who has a few songs you’ve heard any more that you may not have, delivers a great show that leaves you satisfied and happy.