This site showcases the (mostly) digital work of Andrew DiFiore from both Virtual Arts Studios and answerYES Interactive as well as random thoughts and experimental projects too volatile to be contained anywhere else.

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    Zappos 10 Core Values

    Last night I caught Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh on The Colbert Report expounding on how a great brand starts with a great culture. He invited the audience to Google Zappos’ 10 Core Values and so I did (below).

    1. Deliver WOW Through Service
    2. Embrace and Drive Change
    3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
    4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
    5. Pursue Growth and Learning
    6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
    7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
    8. Do More With Less
    9. Be Passionate and Determined
    10. Be Humble

    Over the years I have read interviews and articles about Zappos and its unflappable helmsman and so I had been familiar with the “happiness” philosophy already and how Zappos offers $2,000 to new hires who may want to leave after their first week of training (the company wants employees to feel their job is more than just a paycheck).  In this age of corporate greed and flagrant irresponsibility, it is refreshing to see some businesses strive to adhere to higher ideals than short-term profits. But despite this feel good culture, it is important to remember that Zappos’ success (much like its parent company Amazon) took 10 years and a lot of venture capital.

    This is the complementary slideshow to my 10 minute presentation on Facebook basics I gave at a small business networking group (BNI) in Stamford. It is actually an “encore” presentation to one given earlier in the year about Facebook advertising ROI. Despite Facebook’s latest boast of having over 750 million active users worldwide, many small businesses are simply overwhelmed with all the social media hype. So this presentation focuses on just getting started with the current Facebook. Feel free to share and download.

    Cool Tool of the Month: Check Usernames

    If you ever been frustrated when registering  a unique username on Twitter or Foursquare or Digg then is your quick relief. This tool (powered by KnowEm) lets you check the availability of a username across 160 popular social networking and social bookmarking sites. If this is still not enough then you may want to consider creating an account under KnowEm which not only checks over 550 social networking sites but also domain registrars as well as the US Patent and Trademark Database.

    Top 7 Promo Code Sites

    I don’t know about you but when I have to leave the Promo Code field empty on a checkout screen, it feels like I just paid full price to have a chimpanzee hurl feces at me.  I hate paying full price. You know how hard it is to get feces out of hemp cotton?

    I eventually learned to Google for promo codes before completing my online purchase and over the years I found these sites consistently have up-to-date promo codes you can use to save immediately:

    I know there are a lot of online coupon clubs and “deal of the day” sites (e.g. Groupons) but I kept this list to those sites that make it easy to find codes without sign-ups or link aways. If you know of other sites that qualify, leave a comment.

    Use URL Shorteners

    I was going to write a Top 10 Best URL Shorteners like tinyurl,, and most recently but after a quick Google search discovered that plenty of people have done this ad nauseam. According to the there are over 1,100 URL shorteners currently online with new ones added everyday (they’ve compiled the biggest list to date). Quite frankly, I’m not sure what’s the point of creating yet another URL shortener but then again I feel the same way about Reality TV.

    So, instead, a word of caution about overdoing it with URL shorteners. These services are good for use with microblogging sites like Twitter where every character counts but that’s it. Since a URL shortener replaces the original (long) URL domain name with that shortener’s own domain name you really don’t know where that link links too. Spammers and other shady types exploit this fact to trick people into clicking a link in a tweet or an email. Some URL shorteners like Twitter’s Link Service ( do a decent job protecting users from malicious intent but it is not foolproof.

    Use a reputable URL shortener (like the ones mentioned in this post) when you have to, not every time you write a link in a blog comment and certainly not on your own website or blog. That brings me to another point; domain names are part of your branding so why would you replace it with someone else’s domain if you don’t have too. From an SEO perspective, you should use your own URLs whenever you have the opportunity (this includes social networks).