Friday, June 27, 2008

Well done and oh yes, thanks Bill!

Any cliché phrases you may read about Microsoft® Founder Bill Gates riding off into the sunset or cleaning out his desk are highly inappropriate. He's riding towards the sunrise and just getting a new desk.

Gates is one guy who is going to work full time and then some to make this world a better place to live. And he's backing it all up with billions of dollars of his own money.

Gates has really led an amazing life and company. Without him and Microsoft, I'm not sure if there ever would have been a Video Professor.

Bill Gates is one of those guys we all knew in college, but never saw out of class. While a lot of his classmates might have been enjoying life off-campus, Gates could be found in his dorm, writing line after line of computer code.

Ultimately what made Bill Gates an incredible success is that he was both an engineer and a marketer, a rare combination.

However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Bill Gates enrolled at Harvard in 1973 and he only lasted about a year there. While many of his classmates were reading Playboy® magazine, he was reading Popular Science®. Gates was more of an entrepreneur than a student.

His first deal came with IBM. Then, he and fellow Harvard drop-out and business partner Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1976 in Albuquerque N.M. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Gates, like any successful person in any field has both supporters and detractors. He made mistakes. WebTV was certainly one of them, but simply because it was ahead of its time.

He was also the target of no-small number of anti-trust suits filed by federal and state authorities. Microsoft remains a target of similar suits filed by foreign countries as well. Governments sometimes get cranky when you're too successful.

Gates expected the best from his employees. Any good CEO does. But the list of Microsoft Millionaires and Billionaires is staggering. In the early days, there was more stock handed out than cash. Those who stayed, believed and worked incredible hours were handsomely rewarded.

Wouldn't it be cool if we could go back in time 20 years and buy the stock?

Ultimately look at the programs you use every day on your computer. Word, Outlook®, PowerPoint® and Windows®, to name just a few. Video Professor has been selling millions of lessons on how to use those programs for the past 21 years.

History will judge the true impact of Bill Gates and Microsoft. Yes, the world of computing would have continued on without him, but I doubt it would have progressed as quickly as it did. I think the progress is measured in decades. Bill Gates is one of those rare people that come along every generation or so. He's right up there with Henry Ford, someone else who had the vision no one else did, plus the business-savvy and marketing expertise to take ideas and make them a reality.

Both were doing something others were doing too. They were just better at it.

Vision. It seems to be in short supply these days.

Now Bill Gates' vision is about using his fortune to make the world a better place. He'll make even more mistakes along the way, but successes will far outweigh his failures. Bill and his wife Melinda, through their foundation, are helping to fight AIDS, provide real education to children around the world, and educate people about better ways to farm for the global community.

Gates will be visiting Microsoft's headquarters on a regular basis. I don't blame him. I am curious about how itchy his fingers will be during each visit!


John W. Scherer
John is CEO & founder of Video Professor, Inc.
Reach him at

Friday, June 20, 2008

Social Networking Update: Show me the money

I hope you had a chance to read the article in the June 2 edition of BusinessWeek. The headline, Beyond Blogs, really caught my attention.

Back in 2005, an article about blogs was written calling them a "phenomenon" and the next big thing for businesses to communicate. I started this blog in February of 2005 and I remember thinking that it was really quite an amazing feeling, especially for someone who built a business on traditional communication like TV commercials and infomercials.

It took about 10 minutes to set up an account and suddenly the world was mine. I became a global publisher.
Flash forward to 2008 and blogs almost seem quaint in this day of YouTube, Facebook®, MySpace®, Twitter, Linkedin® and Flickr.

BusinessWeek reports that a check on shows there are about 74 million blogs out there, which sounds like a huge universe. The magazine also reports that only a fraction of all bloggers have posted within the last couple of months. According to Technorati™, the real blogging universe is just over five million regular bloggers.

Some blogs have an audience of just a few people, while others have a few hundred; very few blogs have audiences in the hundreds of thousands. The latter are digital movers and shakers, influencing public opinion from arts to politics.

Enter the social networking sites. BusinessWeek is quick to admit it's something they didn't see coming. As fast as our digital world is evolving, I don't blame them.

Along with this blog, I have my Linkedin and Flickr sites. And with a business to run, it's a challenge to find time to post a blog every week and keep my other sites current. So for me, it's enough. Many Video Professor® employees blog, maintain their social networking sites and various departments post their own news and information online.

It's becoming a big business. Newscorp paid $588 million for MySpace. Google® spent $1.65 billion for YouTube. Even in this uncertain economy, venture capitalists are pouring in money and buying stakes in hopes that it's the next big thing.

This is eerily reminiscent of the tech bubble of the late 90's. Gobs of cash were being poured into online ventures that didn't produce anything, or earn anything. Talk about crash and burn.

BusinessWeek warns that the business plans for many of these sites remain blurry. Wall Street likes to get answers to pesky things like expenses and revenue, and not projected numbers, but the real deal.

These sites are so popular with the masses because they're free. If you go to many of the sites you won't see a lot of ads, or even links to ads. So much for the revenue part. BusinessWeek predicts this bubble will also burst. Ultimately it's all about revenue.

I predict social media 2.0 will find a way to live and prosper. Now that so many millions of us have been empowered to communicate from our desktop to the world, there's no stopping us.

John W. Scherer
John is CEO & founder of Video Professor, Inc.
You can reach him at

Friday, June 13, 2008

And the survey says: There are no surveys!

As you surf the Internet, it's likely you've come across sites that offer you cash to take a survey, or put money into your PayPal® account for ordering a product from a national brand like Video Professor® or dozens of other nationally known companies.

It sounds like a terrific deal. There's just one problem. It's a potential scam.

Some of these sites are disguised as chat rooms where someone is passing on a "good deal" to you. Other sites disguise themselves as research companies or focus groups.

It's really just a new version of the old "make thousands of dollars stuffing envelopes at home" scam.

I'm using this week's blog to alert you that Video Professor does not authorize in any way, any offer that pays you to take a survey, or pays you to order our product. Anyone who claims otherwise is flat out lying to you.

And we're doing something about it. The following letter is going out to any and all sites that make these fraudulent claims. We're doing this to protect you and us.

Warning Letter
This letter is to notify you that Video Professor will not tolerate being associated in any way with survey or cash-incentive offers being made to consumers through your web site(s). We believe the promotional methods used in making these offers are deceptive and fraudulent. They result in harm to consumers as well as to businesses such as Video Professor.

Offers of this kind typically fail to disclaim that the company whose products are being offered has not sanctioned the survey being presented. Video Professor refuses to have its name or products used in this manner.

To our knowledge you are not currently offering Video Professor products on your web site(s). If however, that is not the case and you indeed are offering our products, we strongly request that you remove all Video Professor product offers from your web site(s) immediately and ensure that your affiliates, sub-affiliates, or others down the line from you do the same. Should we learn subsequent to this letter that you or your affiliates are offering Video Professor products, we will refer this matter to our outside counsel, who have been instructed to initiate appropriate legal action immediately. To the extent you wish to clarify for Video Professor how the business model you employ is not a means of deceiving and defrauding consumers and businesses such as Video Professor, you may contact our outside legal counsel.

Please note that we do not intend to send any further communications regarding this matter. Should you fail to remove our offer as requested, we will take appropriate legal action without delay.

Video Professor makes this communication under reservation of all rights. Nothing contained in or omitted from this letter shall be deemed an admission or omission by Video Professor of any facts or a waiver of any rights or remedies, legal or equitable, which Video Professor may have in connection with this matter.

Simply put, it means STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING!

Video Professor is in the business of teaching people how to operate and get the most out of their computer and we've been doing so for 21 years. It's easy to order, just call or visit our web site and we'll take care of you. It's what we do.

We don't conduct surveys or make you jump through any other hoops to try the Video Professor products. That's not us.

Should you come across any site or chat room making these claims, please let me know about it because they're not sanctioned or approved by us
If you're ordering only because of a cash incentive, please don't. If you're ordering because you want to learn, please do. Plus it's FREE*

John W. Scherer
CEO & Founder of Video Professor, Inc.

*Visit our web site and see How It Works.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Twilight Zone to Lost. From water cooler to the Web.

The other day I noticed that you can view original episodes of "The Twilight Zone" at They have seasons one through three. Just pick your favorite episode, sit back and enjoy as host and creator Rod Serling tells you that "there is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man."

It got me thinking how almost 50 years after these original episodes aired, the Internet has impacted the way we watch television shows, plus interact with them and even have input into storylines.

Take the hit series Lost on ABC. Sure, it has a huge viewing audience. But it also has numerous web sites, blogs and podcasts dedicated to it. You can watch it, then chat online with fellow fans, listen to some great podcasts produced not only by ABC®, but also by Lost fans on their computers. The best of them is The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack. You don't even have to watch the show on your TV. You can watch it online or on your iPod®.

Borrowing a page from Lost, let's flashback to the 60's and The Twilight Zone. During this time, it was an absolute classic show, and similar in many ways to Lost; always eerie and unpredictable. However, talking about it was limited to the water cooler or writing a letter to the network and that was it.

Today's producers of hit shows pay close attention to what fans are or aren't saying on the ‘Net. They read posts and blogs, listen to podcasts and interact directly with you. Many times you can chat online with the show's stars and producers.

Imagine being able to go online and chat with Rod Serling. Or discuss a show or ideas for a show online with fellow fans. Well, it's heading that way. Google The Twilight Zone and you'll get a lot of hits, but no chats with Serling.

I wonder if Rod Serling's fertile imagination ever thought this could happen? It wouldn't surprise me one bit if he did. It might have made for a fun episode of The Twilight Zone.
He'd have to re-write the intro a bit to something along the lines of "you're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up-ahead: your next stop: the Internet."

John W. Scherer
John W. Scherer, CEO & founder, Video Professor, Inc.
Contact me at

PS. I post this on June 6th, 2008. It was 64 years ago that Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy leading to the end of World War II. Let's not ever forget that day.