Oh yeah, I need to keep my own site up by Hamid Saify

Every year, I say I'm going to blog more. But as you can see from my last post in 2014, that doesn't always work. 

I get caught up in work and life and tend to rely on Twitter for micro-thoughts instead. But, I'm going to attempt this again.

Just once a week. Wish me luck.



Agencies & Search: It's Like We Don't Exist by Hamid Saify

Every time I speak at a conference, I get a rush of energy. Speaking at a search conference though, it gives me a different feeling. Sometimes a bittersweet one. This is why.

SMX in NY is a vacuum. All/most of the attendees understand, appreciate, and respect search as a leading digital channel. We've seen the life changing impact of search, not only for search professionals, but for small, medium, and enterprise level clients who have embraced it.

But, we don't operate in a vacuum...usually. When working with a small business, search tends to be the biggest channel. But as company size grows and other channels are integrated into the mix, and especially when one or multiple agencies come into the fold, the search voice is getting quieter and quieter.

This is bad. It's bad because search is nearly half of digital spending. HALF. A FUCKING HALF is a FUCKING LOT.

If you read Agency Spy, DigiDay, AdWeek, and any other trade pub the conversation of digital never skews far from content creation, social, and display. Every day, I think I'll see some mention of search here or there....it never happens. It's like we don't even exist.

The hype & bullshit that agencies talk about "integration" - it's not really happening at most places. I'm lucky. The work we do at Deutsch integrates search in so many ways. It could still be better, but it's better than the experiences I hear about everywhere else. 

It's very much our fault as in industry. We've lost sight of the bigger picture. We've lost sight that search has changed advertising/marketing more than any other channel.

So, what do we do? A couple of things:

  1. Focus on what matters - no more 50 slide deck presentations to clients, internally, or God forbid a conference where you have 15 mins. Keep it simple. Crisp.
  2. Make it sexy - you're fighting for attention. You're fighting for budget. You need to sell the way you write a text ad. 
  3. Make it cross platform - think of ways to weave search into social campaigns and other properties like YouTube.
  4. Do it differently - years ago, I said search needs more "oh shit, that's cool" moments while at SMX. We do. A lot more. Things like what Snickers did with search or what Deutsch did with HTC and scanable Google Goggles ads in 2011
  5. Less "geek", "nerd", "ninja" bullshit - think like a marketer who understands creative and data and not just a specialist who really fucking gets Quality Score.

Love you all.

"Boyhood" is Really Overrated by Hamid Saify


I had high hopes for "Boyhood." Not just because of the tremendous concept, but let's be honest, because of the reviews. On the week "Boyhood" launched in the LA, it had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%. The weekend I watched it (two weeks later), it dipped to 99%. That's relevant real deal Holyfield. So, I figured the consistency in rating would really deliver something great. But, I was really, really, really disappointed.

Even with the ratings, I tried not to approach "Boyhood" with high hopes. I didn't read the reviews, critic or user. I just went in there with an open mind. But, fuck, a 99% - that's hard to shake.

First - great concept. Shooting a movie over 12 years, with the same cast, that's amazing just to pull off. Also, I think we all can identify with the story of growing up (we all did it or are doing it). Like many of our normal lives, "Boyhood" doesn't really have much depth. Nothing really crazy happens. No one gets addicted to drugs. No one gets pregnant. No one falls into the wrong gang. It just shows a normal boy, becoming a relatively normal teen with questionable haircuts, who smokes some weed, and kisses girls. Normal. And I loved that part of it. I'm glad the movie didn't force some cliche on us. Props for that.

But, while it was just a normal play on growing up, I found myself not really giving a shit about any of the characters. I mean, a little, but I just didn't connect with any of them to really feel their sadness, disappointment, or anger. There were some moments, especially with Patricia Arquette's love interests, but other than that, it was like watching a YouTube time lapse of a baby. Cute and everything, but not enough.

And speaking of Arquette, she was just miscast in this one. I didn't believe her. I didn't find her interaction with the kids authentic, full of emotion, or genuine caring. Even her last scene, crying over her son's departure of college, just felt all wrong. I've been through this experience. I remember how my parents cried when I left Atlanta for LA, I could have easily connected with that, but she played it all wrong. That's unfortunate, because a better play of that scene could have redeemed a bit of the movie for me.

Overall, watch it. I'd say it's a mid to high 70ish movie on Rotten Tomatoes...at best.

Does saving money limit risk taking? by Hamid Saify

As a kid, I took a lot of risks. I'd skateboard the biggest hill in our neighborhood on my chest and head first. I'd jump off the biggest ledges. I'd jump my bike off everything. And, I'd body slam any pillow hard and with purpose off the stairs being Ultimate Warrior tag team partner.

And through my twenties, that same level of risk reached into my professional life.  I made big decisions with my clients' accounts without always getting approval. I just knew it would work, and it did. I also didn't save much. I accumulated $13K of credit card debt in my first year after college. I didn't get into the 401K plan. I didn't skimp on travel and dining. And, I always wanted a bigger and nicer things.

So, when I moved to LA from Atlanta, not having liquid cash sucked. I remember the first three weeks in LA, I had $26 in my bank account and going to Costco to buy groceries. I load my cart up with brownies, muffins, Tyson's chicken tenders, and big ass bags of Kettle Chips, only to be told they only take debit cards and American Express. But, here I was, wanting to buy groceries on a credit card. But that didn't stop me from overextending myself further.

My first apartment was 60% of my monthly salary. My drive was 50 miles each day, on premium gas. I gambled with poker. I kept digging the hole.

Yet, during that time, I also took the most risks being an entrepreneur. I had to. I had to become successful, make more money, and get to some finish line. From age 24-28, I worked 9-5, but also ran an e-commerce business on the side. There was no time off. I'd answer customer phone calls by pulling over to the side of the road. I'd stay up to 3AM sending shipping updates to clients. I was making money. Customers were happy. I felt like I'd made it.

Looking back, I was burning myself out. To the point that when I sold my business, I vowed to take several years off before starting another one. That only lasted one year. During that time though, I still wasn't preparing for the future. My taste for finer things was still prevalent and saving wasn't really in my vocabulary. At 30, I thought, "maybe I'm just not one of those people that saves, I'm a risk taker." 

At 31, things changed. I got a promotion at Deutsch to VP and I realized that I'm no longer young anymore. Yes, in the average sense, 31 is young, but as someone working in advertising/marketing, I'm always fearful of being "old". So, I had to protect myself. Thus, I started saving and saving pretty aggressively. 

I've downsized cars. I maxed out my 401K. I'm investing in stocks. My IRA game is tight. But, the entrepreneur in me is still very much active but I'm now finding myself in a crazy spot:

I'm killing ALL of my ideas. EVERY ONE OF THEM.

And I don't know why, other than fear of seeing my savings dwindle. Taking a calculated risk is what I want to do, but the accumulation of savings has become a game and I don't want to lose lives or points. This is very new territory for me. 

Not sure how to shake it other than starting my placing small bets in new projects vs. going all in like I did in my 20s. I'm sure I'll get there (I hope). Never thought this would be the side effect of being more financially responsible, and it's a bittersweet pill to swallow.

Who Should Make Team USA's Cut? by Hamid Saify


Foremost, I'm not for the top players pulling out last minute. Be professional. Talking to you Kevin Love. Secondly, we should treat this as a prerequisite for the Olympics.

Here's my Top 12:

Guards - 

Steph Curry

James Harden

Klay Thompson

Damian Lillard

Kyrie Irving

Derrick Rose

Bigs - includes forwards & centers

Anthony Davis

Kevin Durant

Demarcus Cousins

Paul George

Kenneth Faried 

Andre Drummond

I feel bad keeping John Wall off, but I think Coach K and Collangelo will want to let D-Rose get some minutes and run before the season.

Speaking at SMX East 2014 by Hamid Saify

Pretty amazing week this week. I was selected to speak at SMX East in NYC again. Two sessions: Ad Agencies & SEO | Ad Agencies & SEM

I've spoken at several SMX events in the past, but NYC is by far my favorite. Different energy, razor sharp people, and I can OD on the best restaurants at night.

Last time around, it was Marea & Rogue Tomate. This year, gotta start getting my Yelp bookmarks together.


Starting Strong Lifts 5 x 5 by Hamid Saify


I love switching up my workout routines. During the last three years of being serious about training and my diet, I've done a bunch of different things. But, never a program that focused ONLY on getting stronger. 

When I started lifting, I began with a traditional bodybuilding, hypertrophy style program. The conventional splits, work each body part once a week, four/five days lifting per week. I saw good results with this out the gate, but never really got the striations or strength I'd wanted.

My next experiment was with 4x style training. Essentially, you take a weight you can do 15 times, but do it 10 times, and 4 sets. The key with 4x training is time under tension. 3 seconds lower, pause, 1 second push. While I wasn't winning any ego battles in the gym, I loved training this way. I didn't have any nagging pains since the weight was lower, but this is when I noticed my first bicep & shoulder veins, ab veins, and some breaks in my quad. 

Since then, I've experimented with two programs. Layne Norton's PHAT program & HIML (Heavy, Intense, Medium, Light). 

PHAT is a pretty punishing program. You work each body part twice a week. The first two days are Power days, lower reps in the 3-5 range while moving as much weight as you can. You rest Day 3, then move into a hypertrophy style training, rep ranges of 8-20 depending on the movement. I just finished 17 weeks of this. By Fridays, I was drained. To the point where I couldn't even muster my Saturday second chest/bi/tricep sessions. But, got great results. Put about 40 pounds on my dumbbell bench, 100 on my squat, and 50 on my barbell row. I recommend it.

HIML is a monster. You switch every week. Heavy week - low reps, high weight. Intense with dropsetting that will make you curse everyone. Medium is a traditional 8-12 rep bodybuilding style week. And, Light is a deload week. I really looked forward to Heavy & Intense weeks, but found myself bored during Medium & Light weeks. I also didn't get much stronger here, which puzzled me. Good to try for 8 weeks though.

So, with one month until Ramadan, I'm getting myself prepared. I'm cutting back my food a bit to get adjusted. Also, I moved to Strong Lifts for a shorter workout time before Iftar (when I can break my fast). Strong Lifts is three movements per workout, three times a week. When you can hit five reps, you bump the weight next time. Squat. Bench, Barbell Row, Deadlift. I'll add pull ups in there also.

Today was Day 1 and while I only did three exercises, I feel more beat up than previous weeks. Followed up with 20 min HIIT on the elliptical. Not looking for anything crazy for results, just trying to keep strength during Ramadan. Planning on 8 weeks, but will see how it goes.

Getting wiser, older, or both? by Hamid Saify

In my twenties, I wanted to get more of everything. More money. More success. Mo better cars. Mo better places to live.

But, having just turned 33, I've spent the last year of my life looking to downsize and save more money. It started with a car. I sold my beloved Porsche, for something with slightly lower monthly payments. Sure, it wasn't that much lower. I bought a E63 AMG. But, after two years of ownership, a couple of months ago it dawned on me, "fuck, this thing takes a lot of gas." So, I calculated it.

Every month, I spend nearly $350 on gas. That's a ridiculous amount. An amount that caused me to explore new options for transportation. Something weird happened though as I started to search for another Porsche. I thought to myself, "what the fuck am I doing?"

Getting attention in a car was something I sort of sought out in my twenties. But, it got old. Everyone wanted to race. Cops want to ticket. And, I could never find parking that was to my standards. I was stressed ALL the time. When I booked a restaurant reservation, I immediately thought of "where do I park", "what if the 911 is too low", silly things like that.

So I've switched gears. I'm now on the hunt for a Nissan Juke Nismo RS. It gets more than 30MPG, it's cheap to fix, it's fun, and you don't see a lot of them. 

Even as I type this, it seems like a sign of getting wiser & older, and that's scary. More so the older part, I'll take wisdom anywhere I can get it.