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How Does Your Expectations Influence Your Opinion?

Posted on : 02-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Personal

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As I stated in yesterday’s post, this weekend we did go out a few times.  This included out to dinner on Friday and Saturday night.  Nothing fancy mind you, but that is still exciting because with a 2 year old and a 10 month old it does not happen often.  On Friday night we were driving back from Koziars Christmas Village and we needed to eat something.  As we were driving in the middle of no where, making our way toward civilization, Allentown.  Yes Allentown at that point was reaching civilization!  We were reading billboards of different places to eat.  Many we never heard of.  Then we saw Cracker Barrel, which we have never been to but we joked about.  Well we said a few jokes and then we saw an ad for Perkins.  Okay I could go for some breakfast food so that was perfect.  As we were driving past the exit for Cracker Barrel my wife joked that I was resistant to change.  Of course this is a dare, so I immediately got off the exit and Cracker Barrel was chosen.  Yes I do fall for “I dare you!”


On Saturday we were out again looking at the lights at Peddlers Village, we then decided to do a quick run to WalMart.  Afterward we were hungry and it was a little later so there should not be a wait anywhere.  For the longest time I have wanted to try a new “chain” restaurant in our area called 99.  Every time we tried to go it would have a long line out the door.  I could not really see a difference to TGI Fridays or something like that, but there were crowds.  We actually saw this at 2 locations so we were looking forward to giving it a try.


So let’s review, I had limited or low expectations for Cracker Barrel and rather high expectations for 99.  Here is a quick review of each based on these dinners:

  1. Cracker Barrel – We walked into Cracker Barrel in Allentown, and instead of a restaurant it was a cute little general store with many items.  We walked around for a little while and checked it all out.  When we did get seated we reviewed the menu to find home style cooking options.  We were sort of in the mood for breakfast but the choices were good.  They did not have alcoholic beverages, so I decided coffee was good for the moment.  The coffee was not the greatest, but not bad.  We placed our order.  The waitress immediately brought over corn muffins and biscuits.  I ordered a sample platter which included chicken dumplings, meatloaf and ham.  I have to say it was really pretty good.  It was just like home made.  The only negative with my food was it was colder than I would expect, but I ate it anyway.  After dinner instead of having dessert we decided to order a pie to take home.  We picked an Apple pecan crumb or something like that.  I have to say I was impressed and now I am looking to go back and try their breakfast.
  2. 99 – We went to the Warrington 99 Restaurant on Saturday.  The place was structure with a bar that was boxed in with walls and window, segregating that space.  There were signs expressing the different reasons for 99.  One cool thing was that they try to tie in with the community, including pictures of older local high school sports team.  The menu reminded me of Fridays or similar place.  They had many beers on draft, so I had a Sam special winter beer.  There seemed to be an emphasis on steak.  My wife had a crab cake sandwich.  It was good, and included 2 crab cakes.  I had another combo.  The only reason I had this was after I ordered the Prime Rib, the waitress came back a while later to say they were out.  So I ordered a combo of steak and salmon on cedar plank.  The salmon was good, but it is something I make at home so it was really not that special.  The steak looked like it was cooked with a weight on the top of it.  It was flat as can be.  Needless to say it really did not taste like anything.  The funniest was the biscuit.  It was hard as a rock.  It would break apart but made a good clink sound when hitting it against anything.  During the meal we asked for another milk which did not come until after the check.  They were kind enough not to charge us for the 2nd milk.  I did ask the waitress if it was normal for the biscuits to be that hard.  She did say no.  The bill was about $50 for 2 adults, 1 kids meal, 1 milk and 2 beers.  Overall I was not very pleased with the experience.  I did not see it much different than other offerings.  Basically if I want an inexpensive steak meal I think I would go to Outback.  If I want burgers (which they seem to also have plenty of), I think I would go to Ruby Tuesdays or Chili’s.  I have no plans to go back because it really did not differentiate itself. 
So that is a summary of the 2 places.  After leaving Cracker Barrel I immediately started to plan to go back to try breakfast.  This was from the person that was joking about it minutes before going.  At 99 I immediately decided I would not be back.  What is interesting about that was it was not that different than what I might see at Fridays, yet I would go back there.  I think I built up an expectation that it would be good and it did not live up to that expectation.  Cracker Barrel on the other hand I had no expectation, or maybe even a negative one.  The okay experience I had is causing me to go back.  Have you ever had a preconceived opinion influence you like this?  How does a brand set the right expectation to create an environment you want to come back to?

The Holiday Spirit

Posted on : 01-12-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Holiday, Living in Philadelphia, Personal

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This weekend we had a lot of fun doing family things to get in the holiday mood.  For those that do not know me well, the holidays are a blah time for me the past few years.  But as Lily and Robyn get older I know that will change.  In a way it started to already this year thanks to Lily, our 2 year old.  So on Friday we had our family holiday picture taken and we went to Koziar’s Christmas Village.  On Saturday we did a little shopping and we went to a place called Peddlers Village to see the “night lights.”  Finally on Sunday I had the opportunity to cook my own Thanksgiving meal.  This Thanksgiving we went to family, which was fun, but in recent years I have cooked so new traditions have been developing.  It is funny how you miss some of those, so we decided to have a mini-version on Sunday with my wife, Lily and Robyn.  It also means we now have leftovers!


I realized this weekend that we sometimes forget the meaning of this time of year.  I do not mean the religious connotation that comes from Christmas or Hanukkah.  I mean the giving spirit and togetherness before the winterfest really takes place.  Most people in the winter spend more time in the house and not as much visiting family and loved ones.  From November to December this is really about family and friends.  Unfortunately when I was driving on Friday and I heard a few news reports that certainly did not have this meaning.  Most of you have heard of both of the incidents by now:  The trampling to death of an employee at WalMart and the shooting at Toys R Us.  Have we truly lost sight of what this time of year is about?


On Thanksgiving we watched a pay per movie movie called “Fred Claus.”  My wife and I were looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit.  We enjoyed the movie, and it started to help.  While watching the movie there was a part in it that talked about how the amount of gifts increased over the years.  It really had me thinking.  While we were driving on Friday, my wife was talking about the candy as Christmas gifts on Little House on the Prairie.   That brings me back to the incidents on Friday.  I still am not sure why the shooting happened at Toys R Us.  Indications are that it was not about a toy, but I am sure it was something just as silly.  At WalMart it was very obvious.  It was a crowd of people rushing in to get some stupid gift that years from now no one will care about.  How stupid is that?  Dr. Judith Rich wrote a good post over at the Huffington Post called “Black Friday At Wal-Mart: The Cost Of Crazed Consumerism.”  In the post she makes a number of recommendations for giving this year.  Here they are:


1) Give an authentic acknowledgment to the people you love. 
2) Look them in the eyes and tell them who they are for you.
3) Open up communication with someone with whom you’ve had a misunderstanding. 
4) Apologize to someone you’ve unfairly judged.
5) Extend kindness to a stranger or offer support to someone and expect nothing in return.


I will add to that (although it fits with #5), with the economic conditions the way they are, consider giving to a charity in the name of someone or group.  Charities are struggling because people are concerned about the future so they are withholding their giving.  You never know when you may be in need of the charity, so choose something close to your heart and try to give something, even if it is small.  On this topic I heard another report this weekend that disturbed me.  It was regarding financial planning and preparation for the end of year tax giving.  It was recommending not giving to charities but doing other things with your funds to maximize the tax benefits.  If this is why you give, it is time to look into your own heart.  Seems like the Scrooge like reason for giving to a charity. 


So this weekend we developed new traditions in our household, do you have any traditions?  How do you show the holiday spirit?

My Thanksgiving Message

Posted on : 27-11-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Personal

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Today is a day we all look back at the past year to say thank you for what the last year has brought us.  Seems to be a little cliche, especially this year with the financial condition of the world.  I am sure many people are having a leaner thanksgiving due to economic conditions.  I think of these individuals every day.  So I ask when you are saying your thanksgiving prayers please think of those that are less fortunate.  If  you are not religious, just some kind thoughts for others.  We know that they will be back on their feet.


When I started to write this post I wanted to say how some poorly run businesses should take the time to be thankful for all the parties and private jets they are enjoying thanks to the generosity of taxpayers.  As you can probably tell, that would not have been a good thanksgiving post.  But as I started to write I realized today is a day that we should really concentrate on our own lives and the good we have seen.  So I will save the negative thoughts for another time.


So what am I thankful for?  This year has been a wild ride for my family.  In January our daughter Robyn was born.  She has brought joy to us.  Lily has continued to grow and become a fun happy 2 year old (not always as she is 2, but that is also a fun part of life).  Carolyn continues to put up with me and I love her for it.  We have been busy but we have always been there for each other.  I love my family and I enjoy every moment with them.


From a professional perspective I have met so many new friends this year.  I am grateful for all of them.  Thank you for letting me into your life.  I am also thankful for everyone that has provided me feedback.  It has helped me grow and develop the online efforts that I am a part of.  I am also thankful for the great people that I work with.  My team is the best, most dedicated group of individuals I know.  The leadership team at work has been so supportive as have many of the 100,000 employees.  Often it is my name out there (which I am still getting used to it!) but it is really thanks to everyone that I have interacted with at work and on the web. 


During my first year at Comcast we have accomplished so much.  Besides efforts to improve service (we still have far to go but we are working on it), we have also moved to our new location.  At the new Comcast Center in Philadelphia, there is a video wall called the Comcast Experience.  It has become a location that many visitors have come to enjoy.  This past week the Holiday Spectacular was introduced on the wall.  Check it out:


Anyway, I want to thank all of you for making this year so special.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the welcome and success I have experienced this year.  I wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.  So what do you have to be thankful for?

When is the Right Time?

Posted on : 23-11-2008 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Living in Philadelphia, Personal

Tags: , , ,


For years I have said that I needed to do certain things in life, but always allowing other things to take precedence.  One of those things was finishing school.  It has always been important to me, but life has always sent curve balls, or at least ones that I used as an excuse.  To me having this accomplishment is not about career advancement because I believe if you work hard you can get whatever you want.  It is about the life experience and being able to discuss ones own life experiences to create better, more well rounded individuals.  It is also a great opportunity to learn more and develop new interests.  So what have the excuses been?  Well they have been going on for the past 12 years.


When I was in school I was probably not the best student.  I was alway more dedicated to work and friendships.  I actually found many of the classes to be too easy and not challenging.  I always enjoy a good challenge.  So I completed 2 years and then moved into the working world with the intent to go back.  I was successful very quickly.  I think this has to do with work ethics and the ability to retain information easily.  As I continued to grow I decided it was time to consider returning to school.  At the time my wife and I were just about to be married.  I decided to wait after that.  Of course then we were buying a house and moving.  You guest it, wait until after that.  Shortly after moving into our home my wife was pregnant with our Angel Gia.  So I decided until after she was born.  Since she was premature she was in the NICU for 3 months.  After that I was dedicated to her and making sure my family was cared for.  As life was normal, when Gia was 2 I started thinking about school again.  But then right after her 3rd birthday she was diagnosed with cancer which we dealt with for 1 year until her passing.  Then I was not in the mood for school.  The next think I knew it my wife was pregnant with Lily so I found more excuses.  They continued with the Robyn.  When I switched jobs and started to work in the city I decided it was perfect for returning to school.  It is now a year later and I have not started.  But now is time to make this happen!


So the first is to decide where is the best place for me.  Living and working in the Philadelphia area I have a number of great places to choose from:


  1. Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania – Outstanding school and a place I have always wanted to attend.  It is very expensive but a well respected degree.  But would they accept someone like myself?
  2. Drexel University – Drexel is really known for engineering, but they have broadened their offerings and have worked to create an online program that is a leader in the profession
  3. Temple University – Another really good business school that has created many of the leaders in the Philadelphia area.  This school has a campus near my home as well as one close to work.
  4. Villanova University – This is where my wife and many of her family members attended.  It is a little out of my way, but if I could live the dream and move to the main line area it would be perfect
  5. University of Phoenix – I have heard good stories from adults going back to school and selecting their program.  It is geared toward working adults so they know the importance of time.
So they are the selections I have to chose from.  There are probably many others too, especially in the Philadelphia area.  What I would have to look into is credit transfer, life credits (always worth asking about!), and costs.  I am lucky Comcast does have a good education program.  At the same time I am not looking forward to the initial outlay of funds.  Of course I have to make sure I do not use that as an excuse.  
So why do I write this post today?  Well I am sure my many friends will make sure I remain focused on this goal.  I read somewhere that for those trying to accomplish tasks, pressure from online friends can be a great help.  Have you procrastinated on something that you really want to achieve?  Have you used social media to make sure you accomplished it? What recommendations do you have for me?  You can also email me at work frank_eliason@cable.comcast.com if you have helpful advice.