BGCA Youth of the Year 2013

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Aaron Young, SMBGC CEO and Jason Meugniot, SMBGC Board Member

Someone asked me yesterday if my trip to Washington DC last week was for “business or pleasure.”  I said, “Pleasure, for sure.”  Here’s why…

“For 47 years, Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year program recognizes Club members who, with the help of their Club, have met personal challenges head-on and, despite the odds, have given back to their Club and community.  Youth of the Year winners have demonstrated service to Club, community and family; academic success; strong moral character; life goals; and poise and public speaking ability.”  —bgca.org

Five of my SMBGC colleagues and I attended the Boys and Girls Clubs of America’s Youth of the Year gala in the Senate Hearing Room on Capitol Hill in DC last week.

Kiana Knolland

“The Boys & Girls Club has been an integral part of my life.”–Kiana Knolland

Kiana Knolland took the honor this year from a field of amazing candidates, including Santa Monica’s own Gretchen Galanis.

While in DC, Aaron Young and I met with California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s office, leaders from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the After School Alliance to raise awareness about the importance of funding after school programs for the children in the United States who need it most.

Colin Powell

Former Sec. of State Colin Powell

Condoleeza Rice

Former Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice

MSNBC’s Luke Russert emceed the ceremony with speeches from former Secretaries of State Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and over 50 congressmen, military officers and government agency heads.

The SMBGC operates 10 separate club locations in Los Angeles serving over 1,000 children a day during the summer months.  Programs focus on: Character & Leadership; Education & Career; Health & Life Skills; The Arts; Sports, Fitness & Recreation; and Specialized Initiatives.

The Club also offers STEM, Power Hour, and Smart Girls programs. Computer repair and programming initiatives, homework assistance, and college entry counseling are also available to the kids, all for only $20 per year.

Why Use a Magento Solution Partner?

Magento Gold PartnerThis year, to support the growth and success of its Enterprise customers, Magento introduced several moves focused on strengthening the Magento Solution Partner Program.

As Magento Enterprise merchants’ needs continue to evolve, their success depends, more and more, on the quality, technical depth, track record and expertise of their Magento Solution Partner.

There are only a few Magento Solution Partners in the US driving the mid- and enterprise-level retail market. And Guidance leads them all with more implementations and more Magento licenses sold.

Leading all other Magento Solution Partners in quality and sophistication, Guidance provides the US market with:

As a Diamond sponsor at Magento Imagine this year, Guidance will be onsite at the Las Vegas show this year to meet with merchants and Enterprise retailers.

If you are considering a move to Magento Enterprise or want to learn more about how mobile and tablet computing are changing the face of eCommerce, come visit us at Imagine.

Guidance Turns 20!

1993

1993…

Bill Clinton was inaugurated as the 42nd President of the United States.  The average cost of a gallon of gasoline was $1.16.  Jurassic Park premiered.  Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” reigned over the airwaves.

In the world of technology, Intel introduced the Pentium microprocessor.  Windows NT 3.1 was released by Microsoft.  Tim Berners-Lee pioneered the World Wide Web at CERN, a research laboratory headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

And Guidance was founded.

This year marks our 20th anniversary.

Since 1993, Guidance has helped hundreds of clients solve problems and seize opportunities through the practical and innovative use of technology.

We began with Jameco, BofA, and later, Celebrity Sightings.  Today, clients such as Foot Locker, Burlington Coat Factory and Ray-Ban rely on Guidance to provide high-transaction, fully integrated eCommerce platforms, mobile applications, and hosting services.

I joined Guidance as a project manager in 1998, bought the company almost 10 years later, and I’m proud as ever of the rich history and value Guidance has produced over the last 20 years.  We’ve sustained two of the worst market cycles of my generation.  And we continue to shape and lead the eCommerce space with highly customized online solutions for today’s most successful retailers.

In recent years, Guidance has been honored as one of the Best Places to Work in L.A. by the L.A. Business Journal for 2009, 2010 and 2012.  In 2011, Guidance was honored with Magento’s Partner Excellence Award in recognition of its achievement as a top revenue producer and innovator.  And Guidance continues to lead the nation as the most seasoned eCommerce web development company in the United States.

With mobile devices in the hands of almost every adult and young person on the planet, the importance and relevance of eCommerce is now shifting into high gear.  It’s everywhere. We’ve been shaping the landscape of eCommerce for 20 years with billions in online transactions.  And, yet, I’m so excited for what the future holds.

Beginning next month, our employees will share their thoughts on the industry, market trends and expert tips.  I know it will be insightful and I expect you will, too.  So join us for the next chapter of eCommerce and the next 20 years of Guidance.

–jason

Jason Meguniot
President & CEO, Guidance

Holiday Packaging… Where To Put It All?

Holiday sales are up roughly 16% over last year.  And for many of us, the online retail space has been a boon for our professions and for the economy these last 15 years or so.

It’s also been huge boon for the waste management industry.  Hiring in the US has been on the rise for the last several decades.  There are now over 370,000 people working in the waste management industry, domestically.   And during the holidays, much of the packaging and related packing materials that are sent and received across the US wind up in landfills.

popcorn filler

All of those Amazon boxes and even ewaste (new iPhones and iPad Minis make earlier devices obsolete at a blistering pace)  are often not recycled and are simply trashed.

$205 billion is spent globally to manage 1.3 billion tons of trash annually, and some say that figure will rise to $375 billion by 2025.

Fortunately, some retailers are taking steps to make their shipping practices a bit greener.  Yesterday’s Forbes.com article highlights a number of them, including Amazon and Etsy.

But we have a long way to go.  In 1980, we recycled 10% of our garbage. That figure has since risen to 34%.  However, with ecommerce increasing (in online sales) 15% annually for almost 20 years now, we need to do more to keep these growing numbers of packages out of our landfills.

My friend Elizabeth runs the Grades of Green program in my neighborhood which inspires kids and the broader school community to care for the environment.  She writes:

“I think the best place to start is how to decrease the amount of shipments made. One of the things that I find dissapointing as a consumer is when we dont have the option to ship items together.

I ordered [my daughter] some things for christmas from a vendor on 1 order and they sent everything out as soon as it was in stock instead of waiting to ship the 2 items together.

Also, in many cases, it isnt possible to add to an order when we have forgotten something from the order which results in multiple shipments to the same place in a short period of time.”

And Dan, one of my “off the grid buddies” reminded me that…

“Recycling is great but Reducing, or not using something in the first place, is by far the best.”

How do you think online retailers can do better?  I want to know.  And I promise to share your ideas with my clients :)

Imagine 2012 – Magento

IMG_0794I received my Magento 2012 Imagine book in the mail today. In looking back through all the faces and events that occurred at this year’s event, I couldn’t help thinking about all of the great Magento initiatives, projects and clients we served at Guidance. 2012 was a big year for Guidance and Magento. And I’m looking forward to Imagine 2013 and talking about our “Next Story…”

Customers Expect Same Holiday Shopping Experience Online and In Store

It’s that time of year again! With the holiday season less than a month away, you and your marketing departments are already planning shopping strategies both on- and offline.

Have you considered the role smart phones, tablets and mobile apps will play in your overall sales this year? 

A study recently published by Google indicates that the lines between online and offline shopping have blurred, with little difference in customers’ (user) experience.

According to the study, shoppers intend to spend more this holiday season, and they will also be doing a lot more research on products, brands and prices. It’s interesting to note that:

  • 51% will research online, then purchase at a store location;
  • 44% will research and purchase an item online;
  • 32% will research the item online, go to the store to see the item as well, and then make the actual purchase online; and
  • 17% will check out the item at the store, and then purchase it online.

Quite often, shoppers are using one of several mobile devices to find information. Your website and/or mobile app should accommodate varied mobile devices by loading quickly, while still being informative and visually engaging.

Whether viewed from a desktop or mobile device, a strategically planned website can turn online shoppers into buyers! Here are a few tips to get ahead of your competition:

  • Communicate with your customer by considering demographics and customer feedback.
  • Go for a more creative look and feel that will function well for both mobile and desktop applications.
  • Integrate with social media sites for customer convenience, visibility and to stimulate interest in your product.
  • Make the site easy to navigate with simple check-out procedures. Offer PayPal. Include wish lists and merchandise suggestions. For security, use SSL encryption.
  • Provide rich product detail, including graphics and reviews, so shoppers have all the information they need.

A positive user experience, whether online or in-store, is essential for making the sale and having a return customer who will recommend your brand to others.

The Best… Again…

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Guidance was recently honored as one of the “2012 Best Places to Work in LA” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

Out of the thousands of businesses in L.A., we are especially thrilled to be recognized as one of the best once more.

Winning the LABJ honor for the third time is exciting. We participate largely to learn from the LABJ survey which evaluates several areas of employee satisfaction, among other things. But receiving this honor again reinforces that a team with great people can achieve great things.

This ranking is dedicated to identifying and recognizing the best employers in Los Angeles County. The list is determined by the results of a two-part process designed to gather detailed data about each participating company. In part one, the employer completes a questionnaire and in part two, employees of the company complete an employee survey.

Thank you Los Angeles Business Journal and thank you to our Guidance team for making this happen!

guidance.com gets sylish new look…

Today, Guidance unveiled a new look for the company’s website.  Check it out…

www.guidance.com
http://www.guidance.com

FROM:  Christina P.
TO:  Guidance Team

I am so incredibly happy to announce that the newly redesigned Guidance.com website is now Live.

http://www.guidance.com

Where do I begin with the acknowledgments?  This has been a labor of love and dedication from all involved, and especially, I want to offer a huge thank you and congratulations to Sonia C. and her design team – they have worked endlessly to create a beautiful, clean, new design with pixel perfect dedication (no really – pixel perfect!); Norma S. for endless nights of copywriting to elegantly articulate our work, our services, and our partners’ capabilities all in a concise, lean web-friendly manner ; and to Robert J. – developer extraordinaire who despite being coerced into a Tech Lead role (which he handles brilliantly), really just can’t stay away from the heavy lifting. His drupal expertise allowed for our new site to sit on an elegant, user-friendly, highly customizable CMS that even someone like me can update easily and quickly.

Hats off to the other members on the A-team who include The Joshes (whoot), Romulo R., and Brenda H. at Summa for their amazing contributions to help us design and launch this site, all while juggling our various client commitments and workload.

As Jade told me early on in the project – “The Painter’s house is always the last house to be painted on the block.” Well, our house is now painted and it looks so pretty.  I am so proud of everyone’s commitment on this team. A true joy to work with.

Of course no site can launch successfully without the IT support of Jon L. and Charlie Q. who managed to get our new server up and running at the colo last week during a week of madness and other misfortunes of timing including the AC going out in the Server Cabinet.

And finally, I would like to also acknowledge the leadership of Jason Meugniot, who continually guided the direction of the site, reviewed all copy and content, and made himself available to the team (even when on vacation) in order to meet our launch deadline.  His input was focused and on point at every turn.

If the above seems bloated with gratitude and adjectives, it is because I am so proud of everyone involved.  I work with some amazing and talented people.

We will continue to add to and improve the site in the near future, so please send any and all feedback to my attention so that I can review it with the team.

Thank you again!

Christina P. | Project Manager

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Photo:  REUTERS/U.S. Navy Photograph/Newscom/Handout

Sent via email to my staff today…

When I was about 20, I visited the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.  The President today declared December 7th as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.  I wanted to remind you all of this as we get into the tail of our busy Wednesday.  
My granddad fought in the war that began in Pearl Harbor, as many of your granddads did, too.  He passed away a few years ago.  But he is and will remain one of my true heroes.  
I’m not sure he would be proud of what he would read in the papers, today.  But it reminds me to find ways to honor him and the rest of his selfless generation, somehow.
Today, on December 7th, after 70 years, we are reminded again of the extraordinary strength of purpose and resolution of our Greatest Generation.  And as we head to lunch and return to finish our workday, consider ways that we can honor our WWII veterans, perhaps by showing some greatness ourselves whether at Guidance, or in our communities, schools, churches, synagogues or elsewhere.