Updates, Redirects, and “Aren’t You That Guy Who…”

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You should be over here right now

Recently I have noticed a small spike in subscribers to this blog.  That is great.  I appreciate you choosing to subscribe.  I hope to reward you with outstanding content that will make you glad you did.  The problem is that this is not where I am doing that anymore.  In December, I transformed this humble blog into The Hospitality Formula Network.  The network consists of five specific blogs that each focus on a different facet of the hospitality industry.  There is a blog for restaurant servers, restaurant managers, restaurant guests, and even one filled with restaurant humor.  You can learn more about The Hospitality Formula Network here or just visit the home page for previews of the content available on each of the sites.

So I am not going to ask you to take the time to click a link without giving you some reason to do so.  Here are three reasons why I think The Hospitality Formula Network is worth visiting or revisiting if you haven’t in a while.

Weekly Skills Focus: For the last 6 weeks, I have been laying out what I believe are the fundamental keys to improving sales, tips, and creating return guests.  We are currently on week 6 of an 8 week series.  I have dug back through the archives and am spotlighting on key post each week.  I am adding further explanation on the server blog, but doing much more on the manager blog.  Each lesson at The Manager’s Office is also accompanied with key teaching point to make this your pre-shift meeting topic of the week.  In addition, I am including a “lesson plan” as such to explain how to teach the topic throughout the week to increase understanding and server buy-in.  I fully believe that restaurants that follow this plan for all eight weeks will see a dramatic improvement in revenues, morale, and guest happiness.

In-Depth Knowledge:  When I started this blog, I felt it necessary to cover the big picture issues first.  This lead to a lot of posts that introduced philosophies that create the paradigm by which I analyze the restaurant industry.  This is where topics like the 10 Rules of Serving and my Leadership vs Management series for managers came from.  Now I am able to simply reference and link back to those posts when discussing more situational topics.  This blog provided a great deal of background information, the current posts deal more with the real world applications of it.

The Writing is Better: If I am going to be honest with you, I cringe when reading some of the early posts on this blog.  I never claimed to be a great writer.  I have found though that writing like most other skills is something you get better with the more you practice.  300+ posts and over 250,000 words later, I think my writing has improved a bit.  I have a stronger voice and feel more confident writing in it.  I address a number of topics now that I was scared to when I started this blog.  The transition was most apparent to me when shortly after starting the network I began a final round of rewrites and edits on my book.    The blogs and the book both benefited greatly from the efforts that began trying to peck together posts for this blog.

Speaking of which, did I mention that I released a book?  My first book Tips²: Tips For Improving Your Tips was released just two months ago.  I truly believe it is the finest book available on the topic of the skills servers need to make exceptional tips.  I do not say that because I wrote it, I say that because I have spent some time looking into other books available on the topic.  I did not write the book to make a quick buck.  I did not slam some information together and print it up on a Xerox machine.  I did not release an eBook and hope to sell a few copies.  I spent two and a half years writing, testing, editing, rewriting, copy editing, designing and publishing.  I am not looking to sell a few copies while I am working a desk job.  This is not just another product I can sell my consulting clients.

This book is my manifesto on serving.  After 16 years in the business and countless misguided server training programs, I distilled the information that has allowed me to be a successful professional server into a simple format that servers can benefit from immediately.  I founded Hospitality Formula Publishing to help provide this information directly to the hospitality industry.  I have two more books in developement and am on the lookout for other strong voices within the industry that I can help be heard.  This is not a way to market myself.  This is my attempt to fundamentally change the way that servers are trained.

I take seriously the fact that I am not just some consultant who wrote a book.  In less than five hours I will be tying on an apron to start another week serving at The Majestic Restaurant in Kansas City.  I have to say it is a bit odd at times living the double life of author and server.  Over the last two months I have received a bit of publicity.  I have been featured on/in KSHB, KCTV, KCUR, The Pitch, The Kansas City Star, The Employee Lounge, and Tony’s Kansas City.  This leads to the inevitable, “Hey aren’t you that guy who wrote a book?”  If you ever really want to increase the pressure of serving, try to be the server who wrote a book on serving.  There are no more off nights.  You are expected to bring the show to every table every night.  I refuse to be a hypocrite about the things I write about.  I know they work because I do them. 

So thank you for visiting this site.  I hope you enjoyed the post, now get over to The Hospitality Formula Network and let’s change this industry together.

The Best of Tips For Improving Your Tips

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Welcome to the final installment of “best of” week on The Hospitality Formula Network.  Today I am looking back to where it all began.  Tips2 was the original focus when I began blogging.  It is still the largest blog on the network and in my opinion the one that can have the most impact on the income of those who read it.  Lately, posting on this site has been a bit more limited.  The reason for this will become apparent over the next few months.

You will also notice that the blog looks different today.  I changed the format of it from the layout of tipsfortips to a layout more similar to the rest of the blogs on the network.  Today’s “best of” post will also have a different layout from the rest of the posts this week.  The same reason is behind both changes.  For some reason search engines really don’t like this blog.  While a site like foodie knowledge can get over 100 views a day from search engines, this site will be lucky to get five.  Hopefully the format change will help solve this problem.  It also explains why listing the most viewed pages is less informative.

Instead, I am going to focus this post on recapping the articles that I feel have the most potential to increase the income of servers.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

The Best of The Manager’s Office

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The Manager’s Office joined The Hospitality Formula Network as the smallest blog.  I had tried to avoid discussing issues related to management on tipsfortips.  To the extent that I did discuss them the posts were designed to provide greater understanding of how restaurants worked to servers and foodies.  After I started the site, I realized that I had a great deal to say about restaurant marketing and leading servers.  I have managed for three different companies.  Understanding restaurants from both an hourly and salaried viewpoint provides an interesting perspective on how they are run.

This is also the blog that I am most looking forward to developing.  I have several posts already written for this site.  There are numerous topics that I am looking forward to addressing.  The human resources aspect of a manager’s role is next up on the agenda.  I am also working on a way to revive the “Restaurant Industry Insider” in a new format.  This site is ripe for a major overhaul in layout that should be unveiled in the next few weeks.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

I’ve Been Doing This For A Year?

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It has been an entire year since I started my original blog Tips For Improving Your Tips.  Over that time I have posted over 250 times with an average word count of around 1000 words.  That is roughly five posts a week and approximately a quarter of a million words.  If these posts were a novel, they would be as long as Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451, Slaughterhouse-Five, and The Picture of Dorian Gray combined.  They also would not be anywhere near as well written.

So I decided this week to take some time to focus on the best of each of the blogs in the network.  I am going to address this is two separate ways.  I will first post a list of the top ten most viewed posts on each of the blogs.  There are a handful of posts that receive a large percentage of my search engine traffic on each of the blogs.  This list should be an interesting behind the scenes look at the blogs.  I will also be naming my favorite posts on each of the blogs.  With so much content available, great posts often go unnoticed.  My goal with this is to point out some of the most interesting material to new readers and provide a walk down memory lane for those who have been around since the beginning.

Today though, I wanted to take a moment to wax poetic about this blog.  I generally try to avoid blog posts about blogging.  Always seems to “meta” for me.  This seems like a nice opportunity to do so.  When I started this blog, I was at a crossroads.  I had written a book about serving and had sent a large batch of query letters to literary agents.  Those that replied (a shockingly low number) told me that I needed a platform to show that people would read what I had to say about the hospitality industry.  I decided a blog was the best way to go about it.  I asked some blogger friends for advice and set up a page on wordpress.  I came home from work the next day and wrote a post about how to get permission to sell to your guests.  I posted it on my facebook page and told everyone I could.  I was so excited when it got almost 100 views in the first day.

Later that week a local blogger linked to one of my posts.  It hit nearly two hundred that day.  A writer for the local weekly paper saw the link and asked to do an article about the blog.  I was pretty sure I was on my way.  Then the lull hit.  About three weeks in my blog was consistently doing 30-50 hits a day.  I was convinced most of these were my mother.  I always had the fear that no one was really all that interested in the thoughts of a server who wanted to say positive things and help others do their job better.  These fears started to seem pretty valid.

That is about the time when many of my fellow server bloggers found my site.  They put me in their blogrolls and I discovered that there were a lot of other people who had something to say about this business.  Their focus might not have been the same, but their passion was unmistakable.  I will never forget how important they were in keeping me motivated and the encouragement they provided.  This got me over the hump and left me inspired to keep on writing.  Yellowcat, purplegirl, teleburst, CJ, SNMT, and skippymom will always be names that I hold in high regard.

Pretty soon the blog start hitting thresholds of 200, 300, and 400 hits in a day.  The content also became far more diverse.  I decided that it was time for a move and The Hospitality Formula Network was born.  This was a tremendous undertaking.  Dividing all of my posts and setting up five new sites during the Christmas season was a questionable decision.  I had a vision of what I wanted it to become.  I sat back with a legal pad and drew a detailed diagram of how the network would work.  After a few weeks of holding my breath, it started doing what I anticipated.  The readership grew significantly as did the opportunities it afforded me.

Today, I look back upon my original goals for this blog and smile.  I wanted to hit 250 views a day by the end of the first year.  Now if my traffic dipped that low I would panic.  I wanted to prove to literary agents that I had a platform.  Now I have a platform and have decided to bypass the agents altogether.  Honestly, I wanted to get this site big enough to impress some people who were important to me.  Instead, I developed a great deal more confidence in myself and determined those people’s opinion shouldn’t have been so important to me.

Before I go back to writing about the industry, I want to take time to thank one more group of people.  My friends have spent hours listening to me ramble about this blog at length.  I have been known to dwell on it.  So to all of the people who listen to me ramble, thank you.  This list includes my co-workers past and present, the Brambles, the Burtons, all the Haydens, Senor Esparza, and many others.  Most importantly, thank you to my girlfriend, Ali, who has to suffer through the bulk of my ramblings.

For the rest of the week, I will not blog about blogging.  I will however post some “best of” lists on each of the sites in the network.  These should be a good refresher on the posts that I think are too often overlooked on each site.  Today though is my chance to thank all of you for taking the time to read this site.  I will never stop being honored or forget that I have the best audience of readers in the world.

This Week On The Hospitality Formula Network

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I have been struggling to determine exactly what I want to do with this page.  Most of the content has been moved to it’s new home at The Hospitality Formula Network.  Instead of posting links to this site daily, I have decided to do a Friday recap of the week’s posts.  This would also serve as a good reminder to update any bookmarks or blogrolls to the new site.

Haven’t been on The Hospitality Formula Network this week, here is what you missed.

Saturday: I kicked off the new year of Weird Restaurant Stories.  A new year brought several changes and the end of some old features.  Still all the weirdness of the week in one easy to find post.

Monday: It’s job hunting season for many servers.  In Job Hunting: Questions To Ask, I gave a list of questions for job hunters to ask on an interview.  This is information you need to make a good decision about your next employer.  It is also a great way to make yourself more desirable during the interview process.

Tuesday: The Manager’s Office featured a post on Marketing with Facebook.  The details on how to launch a successful Facebook marketing campaign for your restaurant or any type of business.

Wednesday: An introduction to Dining 101 with Mr Wolfe.  This is an excellent new website filled with practical tips on how to be a better diner.  I see this becoming the definitive site for restaurant etiquette in the near future.

Thursday: I broke down and posted a rant about Trash Talking Guests.  Why do some people take so much joy from tossing insults at a server who cannot fire back?  A few laughs for you in this one.

Friday:  I just wrapped up the week with a post on Faking It.  This is the necessary information to avoid the gaffes that many diners make.  Restaurants should not be intimidating, hopefully this post can make them less intimidating for you.

All this and many more posts are available on the new home of tipsfortips: The Hospitality Formula Network

Introducing Restaurant Laughs

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Introducing Restaurant Laughs

(Note: This wraps up the new site intro week on this blog. Check out the new site to find a funny post on the games servers play to pass the time. I think you will find it entertaining and might give you some ideas to make your next shift more amusing. Tomorrow you will also find the final weird restaurant stories post of the year at restaurant laughs.)

The Hospitality Formula Network is home to a wealth of knowledge about the restaurant industry. The information contained in it will allow you to become a better server, manager, or guest. The three sites I have introduced this week really make up the heart of the network. Still it seems that something would be missing without a final site. After reading all of that information, a laugh is probably in order.

That is where Restaurant Laughs comes in. This site is the home of humor on The Hospitality Formula Network. When you need a laugh or two at the end of a long shift, I hope this is where you can find one. This is a place for restaurant people to come together and share their stories. Restaurant Laughs provides you with the observations that let you know you are not the only one that notices all the strange things that happen in restaurants.

Restaurant Laughs is also the new home of Weird Restaurant Stories. My weekly recaps of the most interesting stories to occur in a restaurant will continue in the New Year. I also am very aware that humor is not always my strong suit. That is why a few contributors have been enlisted to share the heavy lifting on this site. In the coming weeks I hope to introduce you to some of the funniest people I know in the restaurant business. I am also open to anyone who wants to share a good tale with the group. Restaurant Laughs is the place to unwind after a long shift and share your stories.

In addition to a new story about the games servers play to amuse themselves during a shift, here is a peak at what you can find at the new site:

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Restaurant Humor

How To Flirt With Your Server

Top Ten Songs About Waitresses

The Card

Awkward Moments

My Response: 25 Things Chefs Never Tell You

The Greatest Customer Complaint Response Ever

Top 10 Songs About Dancing

Restaurant Etiquette: Quiz Answers

Restaurant Etiquette: Pop Quiz

Recommended Viewing 11/15

You Can Get Anything You Want At Alice’s Restaurant (Including Trophies)

The Server’s Court

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Server Humor

Servers Vs Dentists

I Make Mistakes Too

Retiring Jokes

Why Not To Date Co-Workers

The Upside of Dating Co-Workers

Story Time: Injuries

Monday Morning Recap

Five Stories Worth Reading

David Goes To Dentist

Don’t Be “That Guy” (Part One)

Don’t Be “That Guy” (Part Two)

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Blogging Humor

Clip Show: Starting a Blog

Top Five Posts You Probably Missed

Thank You!

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Weird Restaurant Stories

Weird Restaurant Stories 8/21

Weird Restaurant Stories 8/28

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/4

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/11

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/18

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/25

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/2

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/9

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/16

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/23

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/30

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/6

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/13

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/20

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/27

Introducing The Manager’s Office

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The Manager's Office

(Note: Still keeping up the double duty on writing this week.  A great new post on the five most common restaurant scams and how to avoid them is now posted at the new site www.themanagersoffice.com .  On a related note, if any of you are considering a major project like launching five new websites and doubling your writing output, I would recommend waiting until after the busy season.)

The Hospitality Formula Network now has a home for managers.  The Managers Office is where you will find posts directly related to the interests of managers.  This is valuable information on how to lead and motivate your staff.  The series on both topics that were previously found on this blog can be found at the new site.  This provides a place where managers can find information specifically for them without sifting through posts for servers or foodies.

This will also be the home of industry related news and analysis.  I have really wanted to get deeper into some of these topics, but have feared losing the casual readers.  This will allow for future posts related to all aspects of management.  Future topics will include improving your pnl, the best ways to reduce controllables, inventory practices, and marketing.  The Managers Office will soon be required reading for those wanting to get the most out of their staff and optimize profits.

Here is a peak at what is already hosted on this site:

Motivating Your Staff

The Epiphany

Why Contests Don’t Work

How Money Motivates

What Motivates Servers: Autonomy

What Motivates Servers: Mastery

What Motivates Servers: Purpose

Ways To Motivate Servers

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Leadership Skills

The Keys To Leadership

Leadership: Creating A Shared Goal

Leadership: Empowering Others

Leadership: Leading by Example

Leadership: Improving Others

Sergeants and Generals

Management Mentality Mistakes

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Other Perspectives

Understanding Restaurants: The Other Perspectives

Understanding Restaurants: The Guest Perspective

Understanding Restaurants: The Manager’s Perspective

Understanding Restaurants: The Owner’s Perspective

A Tale of Three Burgers

Independent vs Corporate Restaurant Priorities

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Industry Insight

The Evolution of Free Bread

Extras and Upcharges

Supply, Demand, and Chicken Wings

Cost vs Profit

A Food Critic Intervention

Set Schedules As A Manager

Aspirational Dining Defined

Aspirational Dining in a Recession

Hot Schedules Reviewed: Part One

Hot Schedules Reviewed: Part Two

Thank You Mister Robinson

 

Introducing The Hospitality Formula Network

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Welcome to The Hospitality Formula Network

I have been teasing an announcement on the future of this blog for about a week now. Today is the day when I finally think everything is fully functional and can make the announcement. For those of you that missed the announcement during my interview on The Dave Scott Show, you can download the show by clicking here. It was a pretty good interview. I dispelled several misconceptions guests have about servers. We even talked about crop dusting and flirting with your server. It may be worth a listen.

For the rest of you, here is the big announcement. By the end of the year this site will no longer exist. Even the content that is here will be altered or disappear. No need to worry though, I have been working tirelessly on a new site that I feel will greatly improve your reading experience. I have spent more time in front of computer over the last two weeks than any human really should. I think it is finally ready for everyone to see.

This site ending does not mean I am going to stop blogging. Ending this site simply makes room for five more. These five sites (and a few more to come) will comprise The Hospitality Formula Network. A network of sites that will each provide targeted information on a specific set of topics. Here is how it works:

The Hospitality Formula (www.hospitalityformula.com) will operate pretty much as this site does now. It will be updated daily and contain links to the content of all of the other sites. Visiting this site will give you the first two paragraphs of any post. After that you will be given the option to continue reading the post at another one of the sites in the network. Each post falls into one of the four categories represented in the network (servers, managers, foodies, and humor). The full article can be found on the site it is most relevant to.

I know this all sounds complicated. Once you visit the site, I think it will be far easier to understand. Full indexes of each of the sites can be found in the tabs at the top of the page. Each day this week I will be introducing a new site within the network. This gradual introduction should provide you with a full understanding of each site’s role and how it will fits into the network.

The reason for this change is simple. I want to maintain the ability to write about a large number of topics. Unfortunately, many of these topics are not directly related to tips for improving your tips. Many people read this blog for many different reasons. These changes should enable them to enjoy the information they want without having to sort through posts they are not interested in. These changes were made to improve your reading experience. There is no way I would have attempted this change during the holiday season if I were not convinced my readers would benefit from it.

So give it a try. Check out www.hospitalityformula.com and give it a spin. The layout is different, but the content should look familiar. From there you can check out the whole network and get a sneak peak at the sites I will be introducing over the next week. I truly hope you all like the changes. Many hours of loss sleep and stress have been put into this. Give it a look and tell me what you think.

Look Ma I’m On The Radio

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The Dave Scott Show

I mentioned this briefly on Saturday’s post, but it is official today.  I will be on The Dave Scott Show this Friday discussing serving and the industry in general.  It should be an interesting listen.  I’ve never been a fan of my own voice (although I have been accused of loving to hear myself talk), but if you all want to suffer through I promise to try to make it interesting.  He hosts a restaurant themed show every Friday.  In recent weeks he has talked to consultants and managers.  I think it will be a refreshing change to have someone who spends time with the guests giving a different opinion.  Have I sold you yet?  Here are the three best reasons I think you should listen in.

1) Someone is putting a server on the radio.  There are so many talented server bloggers out there making their voice heard.  I think this is a great chance to reach a larger audience.  There are several people who I frankly think should be further ahead in line for something like this than me.  I hope this goes well and gives many of them the opportunity to be heard as well.  I will be dropping some names to him of people on that list.  People I would much rather listen to on the radio than myself.  I’ve never seen anyone who sits down at a computer to write about serving as a rival.  This is a mighty fine community we have and what helps one of us helps all of us as I see it.

2) I will be making a big announcement about the future of this site.  January 1st this site will no longer exist as you know it.  For the last week or so I have been up to my eyeballs in uploading, installing, truncating, and redirecting.  The Holidays are probably not the best time to do this.  On Friday’s show I will be announcing a new home for the blog and a new format I hope you all will really like.  Of course you will hear about it on this blog next week, but who wants to be the last to know?  Only one group will get to know sooner and those are the people who are signed up for my twitter feed.  They will get first crack at it on Thursday.

3) It’s the day before my birthday.  Yeah, I will play that card.  I am cutting my birthday celebration a bit short (who gives up a Saturday night shift in December?) to partake in the interview.  Consider it my online b-day party and you are all invited.  No present necessary.  Sorry, no cake.

So if you are near a computer on Friday between 6-7 central time, I hope you will direct it to LVRocks.com .  Dave seems like a great guy and hosts a very interesting show.  His past restaurant shows can be found on his page.  All are very good listens.  I would be curious to hear what you thought of past guests.  I will try to not embarrass all of you.  Back to regularly scheduled posts tomorrow.

The Feedback Thread

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This is your chance to let me know what you think

This blog is at a crossroads.  Over the next month I will be fundamentally redesigning this blog and the content featured on it.  Before I make any of these changes I really wanted to consult those of you who read it to get your opinions.  You all are the reason I keep writing everyday.  When I started this blog I really hoped to one day get up to about two thousand views a month.  This month we quadrupled that number and it is only eight months in.  The growth has been astonishing to me.  It has made me incredibly grateful to all of you.  It also has introduced some new challenges.

My advice to anyone who asks me about starting a blog now is, “buy the url first.”  I have come about this advice the hard way.  My negotiations for tipsfortips.com or any variation of it are over.  My initial offer of $100 was met with a counter offer of $6000.  I have watched enough Pawn Stars to know that not even Chumlee would accept that deal. Unfortunately,  www.tipsfortips.wordpress.com does not quite roll off the tongue.

The other problem is my lack of focus.  While I have managed to stay on track and post six times a week, but the topics are pretty diverse.  This has in turn led to a pretty diverse audience.  While a handful of folks are interested in anything I post on here, most are not.  Each reader has their preference on what they would like to see posted.  Some are interested in only posts about how to make better tips.  Others come by only for the management posts.  Many of you are foodies who enjoy the food related posts most.  Others only drop in for the humor or weird restaurant stories.  Then there are the folks from Kansas City who like the posts with a local flavor.  All the other groups skip over the last batch.

I am interested in all of these topics.  Some posts intended for one group is relevant to others, but very few of the posts are relevant to all of them.  It also leads to many of my posts being less on the initial topic of “tips for improving your tips.”  This is especially true with the multi part series of some topics.  I feel that when I launch into a week long series on leadership that is relevant to managers, I risk alienating all of the other groups.  My concern is that one blog trying to serve so many diverse groups serves none of them very well.

Now that I have framed the issue, here is my thought.  My plan at this point is to break up the blog.  Rather than having one blog with so many topics, I am considering a few blogs with more specific material.  The downside of this is that there is still only one of me writing.  This means that some of these blogs would only be updated once a week.  It would also mean as a reader that you would be able to only be notified when something was posted to the particular blog you were interested in.  If you were interested in two of the blogs (ie server and humorous topics), you would not have to scroll past the topics that don’t interest you (ie management or foodie topics).  There would also be one blog that stays on top of all of the others to allow one spot for anyone who wants to follow all of the posts.

There is the situation as I see it.  In reality though, that is just me trying to understand what you are all wanting.  Before I put any of this into motion, I want to give you the opportunity to tell me what you want.  Let me know what parts are relevant to you.  Would you prefer more focused blogs even if it meant fewer updates?  Are you a facebook fan, but tired of daily updates of posts that are not relevant to your interests?  Are you someone who would rather see every post in the current format?  I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what my readers want.  It would be far easier for me to just get the information from you.  The comment thread is open to all of you.  Let me know what you think so I can make this blog better for you.

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