We've moved (viturally anyay)

We've converted our http://mcfaddencircle.blogspot.com account to http://www.mcfaddenplace.com If you are receiving our feed please update it. The new feed is http://feeds.feedburner.com/mcfaddenplace Thanks, Mike


80 degrees in the middle of winter

Just one reason it is nice to live in Southern California. Today it is 80 degrees and sunny and I just got back from an awesome bike ride around the Back Bay. Now off to the beach! Kel


CU Football is Back!

I know the Buffs went 2-10 last year and the year before lost 4 or 5 straight at the end of the season, but let me claim it now: CU Big XII Champions by 2009. It's a new era for CU. Check out the recent rant Hawkins had on condititioning: ESPN.com - NCF - CU coach Hawkins rants on conditioning Technorati Tags: , , ,


Darius Goes West

Mike surprised me with an amazing weekend in Santa Barbara to celebrate our three year anniversary. When we got there, we both got a pleasant surprise: The Santa Barbara Film Festival was going on. http://www.sbiff.org/ We decided we should catch a movie so we chose a film that peeked our interest. It is called Darius Goes West. http://www.dariusgoeswest.com/ The movie is a documentary about a young man who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). DMD is a fatal genetic disorder. Those who have it usually die in their teens or early twenties. There is no cure. Darius is a young man, fifteen at the time of making this movie, who despite his health problems maintains a sense of humor and a positive outlook on life. In the summer of 2005, a group of Darius' buddies (college age) decide to travel west with two goals: 1. To test how wheelchair accessible the US is and 2. To make it to LA where MTV's show "Pimp my Ride" is filmed in the hopes of getting Darius' wheelchair 'pimped' to raise awareness for DMD. Darius had never left his home in Athens, Georgia. This group of friends first took him to not just see the ocean and beach for the first time, but to swim in Panama City. They then traveled through St. Louis, the Grand Canyon, New Orleans, Las Vegas, etc. On the way he experienced many amazing adventures and firsts. You must see this movie. I won't tell you how it ended, but I will say this: You will leave encouraged. These young men who made this dream a reality for Darius deserve a standing ovation. With pure hearts and concern for another person, they embarked on an adventure that changed the life of Darius, but more than that will touch anyone who takes the time to watch it. It is amazing what people can accomplish (young or old) when they think first about someone other than themselves. McFaddens give the movie two thumbs up.


Anniversary Bike Ride in Santa Barbara

We had a great trip to Santa Barbara for our anniversary. We took a beautiful bike ride up Mountain Drive and then up the coast. You can see our route on this new tool/site I found : Sanoodi (not sure what the name means but it's pretty cool). Source: http://www.sanoodi.com
  • Name: SB Bike Ride
  • Activity: Cycling
  • Location: Santa Barbara, CA, USA
  • Total Time (h:m:s): 01:00:00
  • Moving speed (mph): 15.8 (avg.) 16.9 (max.)
  • Distance (miles): 15.8
  • Elevation Gain: 800 ft
In addition to our outdoor adventure we spent some time navigating around the town. It happened to be the final weekend of the SB international film festival. We saw Al Gore and Forrest Whitaker that weekend. Even though we didn't plan the weekend around the film festival we dicided we better not miss out... we watched a great documentary called Darius Goest West. I think Kelly is going to write a little more on the film and the impact it had on use later this month. In the meantime, check out the site (link above).

Resource for bloggers

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3 years and counting: Wedding Anniversary

As of January 31, 2007 at 6pm PST, Kelly and I have logged 3 years of marriage. Granted that's not quite 60 but we're 1/20th of the way to that milestone. We're going to celebrate by getting away and taking a trip to Santa Barbara. To see some picts from the wedding day see the slideshow below: As far as our plans, thanks to the Santa Barbara Car Free program, I decided to book our transportation via Amtrak. If we're going to be able to celebrate 60 years we better consider the environment with some of our decisions. Give us a break - we met in Boulder, we should be a little green :-) As far as accomodations, I booked our place through the most visited online vacation rental website, vrbo.com. Of course by next year I hope to booking through another online vehicle. That being said, I did find a great spot. It wasn't painfree though, I did have to write a check (vrbo doesn't offer online transactions). This is the first check I've written in over a year.

US Population reaches 300 Million (in October)

I guess with graduation, moving back the states, searching for a job, and eventually turning to an entrepreneurial venture I missed the population milestone for the United States. After reading an article from the BBC I was reminded how young our country is and how quickly it's changing. Granted there are many countries growing faster and changing more rapidly, but as for this post it's about the changes within the US. To read more check out the link below. US population reaches 300 million

As for a teaser, below are other figures released by the Census Bureau. They show how America has been changing since previous population milestones.

  • In 1915, immigrant citizens came mostly from Germany; in 1967 from Italy; and in 2006 mostly from Mexico
  • The average US family had 4.5 people in 1915, 3.3 in 1967 and 2.6 in 2006
  • Some 45.9% of Americans were property owners in 1915. That grew to 63.6% in 1967 and reached 68.9% in 2006
  • There were 4.5 million people aged 65 and older in 1915, or 4.5%; 19.1 million in 1967 (9.5%) and 36.8 million in 2006 (12.4%)
  • Life expectancy was 54.5 years in 1915, 70.5 years in 1967 and 77.8 years in 2006
  • About 23% of women were in the work force in 1915, compared to 41% in 1967 and 58% in 2006
  • There were 2.5 million cars in 1915, 98.9 million in 1967 and 237.2 million in 2006
  • John and Mary topped the list of most popular names in 1915; Michael and Lisa were favourites in 1967; and Jacob and Emily were preferred in 2006.


How far did you walk/run?

So Kelly and I have been trying walk/run/bike more this year. Well, let me rephrase that, Kelly has a great track record of taking walks and runs. I have a slightly more vacant excercise chart. However, in the last month I have 4 runs, 1 bike ride, and several walks. We'll see if I can keep it up. If you're wondering what kind of walks/runs/bike rides are going on check out the links below. I think you'll enjoy the program. How did we know the exact mileage? Check out the website http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ and find out for yourself.


Free 411 Calls

For those in the US, add this number to your speed dial 1-800-Free-411 (1-800-373-3411) That's right, free information calls. No more $2 charges on your phone bills. You do have to listen to a 10-15 second advert but it's worth it. Check 'em out at www.free411.com PS You probably don't want to call 1-800-411-Free (it's an adult phone site).


A lesson from Bobby Knight?

So I can't say I've learned much from Bobby Knight, although one of my favorite moments in junior basketall can be attributed to him. My coach in 7th grade threw a chair across the court and was ejected - shocking but brilliant. I'm sure Coach Knight was a postitive influence to many players, fans, coaches, etc. I just wasn't following close enough attention. That being said, today I read a note from Mark Cuban's blog that is quite profound:
But thats not really what I appreciate most about you (referring to the NCAA win record). When I was at Indiana you were on 60 Minutes. In your interview you said one single thing that I took to heart. I reminded myself of it while it was in school at Indiana. I reminded myself of it when I failed. I reminded myself of it before any of the many businesses I have started I will continue to remind myself before any of my endeavors going forward. Its also the best advice I've been able to give people of any age who ask me for advice. Its also the characteristic I look for when choosing a partner or hiring. I saw it in Avery Johnson. Ive seen it in Phil Garvin. It was obvious in Todd Wagner and Martin Woodall and many, many others that have put me in a position to succeed. You said, and Im paraphrasing: "Everyone has got the will to win, its only those with the will to prepare that do win" Words for every athlete and those of us who partake in the Sport of Business to live by Thanks Coach.
Mark Cuban's Post I need to write it out myself: Everyone has the will to win, it's only those with the will to prepare that do win.


Classic Startup Mistakes

After my time in Rye at The Putter I spent an afternoon in Oxford. By pure coincidence I walked into Said Business School and saw that Stewart Niblock, former EasyGroup entrepreneurer, was giving a talk entitled Classic Start-Up Mistakes. It was very informational. I've posted some notes in a word document.


Best Web 2.0 Acquisition Bait

Check out WIRED magazine's recent top 10 web 2.0 acquisition bait. Wired 15.01: START

1. FACEBOOK This social networking site is gaining on MySpace as the hipster destination. Reportedly, it spurned a $750 million offer in hopes of netting $2 billion.

2. DIGG Claiming 20 million users a month, Digg is the Mack Daddy of news filters. News Corp. is rumored to have flirted with a purchase, but Rupert rejected the reported $150 million asking price.

3. TECHMEME Think Google News for tech blogs. The well-trafficked aggregator also has drill-downs for gossip, politics, and baseball. A deep-pocketed owner could easily extend it to dozens of other niches.

4. WIKIPEDIA You know it. Heck, you prob-ably contribute to it. The crush of traffic would be a financial windfall for any buyer, but the site is famously independent. Founder Jimmy Wales won’t even accept banner ads.

5. ZILLOW Thanks to this real estate data hound, everyone can know what you paid for your house, give or take a few grand. Accuracy is questionable, but every savvy home buyer has the site bookmarked.

6. TECHNORATI How else do you find out what the blogosphere is saying? The site tracks 59.7 million blogs, a few of which might even be talking smack about you.

7. WORDPRESS The new de rigueur blog-management software, WordPress is favored by the majority of high-traffic posters. One caveat: It’s open source and unlikely to accept a corporate come-on.

8. FEEDBURNER Probably the largest, most reliable provider of RSS services, FeedBurner cleans up and reformats RSS for blog sites. It then channels the feeds to nearly 30 million subscribers.

9. 37SIGNALS With its vaunted collection of Web-based collaboration and shared productivity tools (to-do lists, calendars, and so forth), 37signals offers the most genuinely useful service here.

10. RIYA This photo-search engine’s signature site, like.com, helps shoppers find celebrity-look-alike fashions. Still in alpha, it might change the way we sort through images.

I'm familiar, and a user, of 7 of the top ten. I've heard of Riya and Wordpress but have not used either and I've never heard of Techmeme. I'll have to check those out soon. Kudos to Facebook though. I would agree that they are next up in the major web 2.0 acquisition game.


Make It Beautiful

This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden and appeared on HomeWord's daily devotional
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.—Psalm 139:13-16
In November of last year, a young girl named Courtney suddenly passed away a few days before her 20th birthday due to complications from a bone marrow transplant. I never met or knew this radiant young woman, but her story has touched me deeply. The family’s online journal tells a story of grief, confusion, courage and, above all, thankfulness, faith and love. Below is an excerpt Courtney’s mom wrote in the journal five days after, as she put it, her youngest daughter earned her wings.
“I have spent much of the past 24 hours looking back on Courtney’s life and the view of her life that I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of. As a very young girl, Courtney was really a Mama’s girl, always by my side - she truly was my baby…When I first learned that Courtney had cancer in Sept. 2000, I thought to myself, she is such a little girl - so fragile. I wasn’t sure that she could handle what she was about to be forced to. But I was wrong, she was so strong - she never asked why, she never felt sorry for herself - not in 2000 and not in 2006. She accepted her life and made it beautiful…As a mom, who is mourning her daughter, I know that Courtney would want me to pass along a few words of advice. Love your children (and family) like there is no tomorrow - hug them tighter, smile at them brighter and be sure to tell them you love them as often as you can.”
SOURCE: Family blog Each person was made special, delicately woven by his or her Maker. God makes no mistake and knows the plans He has for us and our bodies. One of the beauties of this family’s journal is that they understand this. Courtney’s family knows that God has a plan for her even when her body, that He created, got too weak and sick to be here. The family misses her terribly, but they know she served God’s purpose on earth and they’re thankful for the gift of their time with her. Courtney was a girl who never felt sorry for herself and accepted her life and made it beautiful. None of us has the promise of tomorrow. You do have this promise: You have a Maker who made no mistake in how He created you. He made you the right size, shape, temperament and personality. My suggestion? Make sure you are making your life beautiful using what God gave you, like Courtney did. GOING DEEPER: 1. You have been given the exact right genetic make-up. How can you use what God has given you to make your life beautiful, no matter the circumstance? 2. Who in your life do you need to hug a little tighter? FURTHER READING: Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 4:13-14; James 4:14-15


Free Hugs

This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden and appeared on HomeWord's daily devotional Jan 4, 2007.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.—Colossians 3:23-24

In September of 2006, a video was released on the popular Internet site YouTube. The video took place in a walking mall in Sydney, Australia and showed a man, known as “Juan Mann,” holding a sign offering “Free Hugs.” As you watch the video, you see person after person walk by and ignore this hugger. In fact, at one point the police make him stop. People eventually warm up to the man and the video ends with many people approaching him for a hug. Months after the video’s release, nearly 7 million people have viewed it; all over the world, “Free Hug” campaigns are being held as a way to give a gift with no expectation in return.

Mann simply did this because he felt that sometimes people just need a hug to feel better. In fact, the first woman who stopped for a hug shared that that very morning, which was the year anniversary of her daughter’s death, her dog had died. All she needed this day when she felt so alone was a hug. And there was Mann to give it to her, freely.

I remember as a kid being challenged to do one nice thing for someone every day without expecting anything in return. Sometimes it is hard to do something for someone else unless you know you will get a “thank you” or a pat on the back or the favor returned. The Lord calls us to a different standard. We are to work with all our heart for an audience of one, God alone. We are not to work and toil for the approval or applause of man. We are to serve and give out of purity and thankfulness of heart.

What have you done lately for someone else without expectation of anything in return?

GOING DEEPER: 1. What can you do today for somebody else? 2. With whom do you work or interact who needs a hug in the form of grace or encouragement or understanding or help? Perhaps you should extend that to them this week. FURTHER READING: Leviticus 19:18; Proverbs 16:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:11


The President's Putter

I leave on Jan 2 for England to participate in my first ever President's Putter. I hope to have at least a few rounds at Littlestone and Rye. We'll see what happens. I play Gareth Jones on Thursday the 4th at Littlestone. It will be great to catch up with Gareth -- he and I played together last year at Oxford. For those unfamiliar with the Putter, I've included a little excerpt from Rye's website. Enjoy.
The President’s Putter Rye – isn’t that where they play the President’s Putter? Yes it is, since 1920 in fact. The Oxford & Cambridge Golfing Society, founded 22 years earlier for ex-participants in the golf match between the two universities, decided in addition to fixtures against various clubs to hold an annual meeting at Rye in early January. The format of the main event is scratch match play, the basis of university golf, and currently attracts a field of about 160. Thus the winner must survive seven or even eight rounds over four days, frequently in adverse weather, without undue delay since at that time of the year play is only possible between 8.00 am. and 4.30 pm. But herein lies the genius of the instigators, for the length of the evenings provides ample opportunity for sociable reunion, if not an obstacle course for those aspiring to success on the following day. Nearly everyone stays in or around the ancient Cinque Port of Rye, where amid its cobbled streets a myriad of inns and restaurants contributes to the congeniality. Players range in age from 20 to 70, some playing regularly – David Hayes the 2006 winner with a handicap of plus two – others barely picking up a club from one year to the next as work and family commitments intervene. Nevertheless the Old Course at Rye can be a great leveller and with the greens at their slickest and best in winter, never truer was the adage that ‘the man who can putt is a match for anyone’. Serious fun is the theme, exemplified by the presentation of a silver medal to the winner in exchange for the victorious ball. On the back of the medal are inscribed the Latin words ‘Primus inter pares’, which are freely translated by everyone else as ‘he was lucky to win’.


Body Scans and Green Juice

As late 20-somethings, Kelly and I are often asking ourselves, "are we getting old?" The question is typically answered with a "no way" but just last night we had a sign. We were down in La Quinta (near Palm Desert) for the holiday week between Christmas and New Years. My dad and Mary Ann, Bob and Jean Campbell, and Kelly and I were all down enjoying some golf and relaxation. It was a nice treat from all the hussle and bussle that tends to build up around the holidays. Anyway, last night Kelly and I turned to each other and laughed. Bob, my dad, and Mary Ann were in a deep conversation regarding body scans and their importance. By no means do Kelly and I underestimate the significance of a body scan but just the fact that this was a major topic of conversation made us laugh. Of course this was only 5 hours after a deep discussion on 100% juice and how we all need our green juice. For some of our consistent readers you might ask, "are you making fun of your parents on your blog?" and the answer is sure. Fortunately for us the probability of our parents finding this on the internet much less reading it is near to nil (with the exception of Fran who wouldn't tell anyone :-). But just in case, we have added some links that might be of use for the Body Scan and Green Juice crowd. Enjoy: Body Scans Now for the Green Juice Fans:




I have found myself listening to a few podcasts on ODEO. It's so much easier than subscribing to the podcast on iTunes. Granted I can't take it with me on my iPod but it is nice to search and find with such ease. It's worth a shot if you haven't checked it out. I've included a link to an interview from the Economist entitled "Wide World of Wikis".
This interview was hosted by Brendan Greeley, the blogger-in-chief for the US public radio program Open Source, and the author of The Economist’s survey on new media, Andreas Kluth.
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I think Twitter is onto something. You sign up and anytime you update (send an SMS) it updates your friends and the website (if you're comments are public). In some aspects this is just an easy way to send out a text to many. Do I care what my friends are doing? Do I want to get a text message anytime a friend sends out a note? Maybe. Maybe not. But maybe the potential isn't in the updating but rather the ability to get texts (and pictures from cell phones) on a website immediately. Imagine if you text and it appears on your MySpace page or personal website. Or what if I took a picture from cell phone and then sent and it uploaded to my site with a message. Now we're talking about cool. I'm not a programmer but I'm guessing it isn't too hard. I'm not sure though. I might send them a little note. I did notice that the founders have quite a good track record. I'm sure we'll be reading about this company soon.


Welcome Back!

It's been a rush the last month. I got back to LA at the end of September and the next day Kelly and I were up to Oregon for Pierce and Kyla's wedding in Hood River. After the great event we went to Bend to visit Courtney and Adam Bledsoe. Following a wonderful, peaceful few days we drove back up to Portland and flew to SF. It was there that "Career Search Tour 2006" really took off. I met with Adam DeVito, the co-CEO at Big Boing. We spent a few hours discussing BB's upcoming business activities and opportunities. BB is a small, nimble new product and innovation group that partners with large companies - with a strong focus around 'play' and right brain development. Their business model differs from most innovation consulting groups because they typically own the intellectual property or at least structure deals in such a way that they have royalties and/or licenses. I have known Adam for several years and he is a very talented individual with a great team around him. It was an excellent start to the career search. In a future post I will discuss more on my thought process regarding the next step in my career. After Big Boing I visited a friend down at Skype and saw the eBay campus. eBay bought Skype for $1.3 billion back in 2005. It was considered a ridiculous amount by many at the time but considering Google just bought YouTube for even more maybe it wasn't. Following our visit at Skype Kelly, Scott Berkley and I went up to Yahoo! and attended their first open Yahoo! Hackday. I'm not a programmer so I was a little out of place but it was a fascinating event. It made a lot of noise in tech world, especially considering they brought in Beck - a well known band - that also happened to be one of Scott Berkley's top 3 bands of all time. Well done Yahoo! The tour continued when I met up with a young, former Sierra Ventures VC guy, turned entrepeneur - Nisan Gibbay. He just recently left his position at SV to pursue a new opportunity. In the meantime he's publishing reviews on startups. It's worth the read: check out www.startup-review.com. After my time in SF, Kelly and I drove up to Sonoma to meet up with a serial entrepreneur and well respected investor, Jerry Sanders. Jerry came out to Oxford in August and gave a three-day lecture series on start-ups. I attended his class and when I found out he lived in the SF area I arranged a time to visit with him. Kelly and I took some time to visit a couple wineries and then headed down near Walnut Creek to visit the parents of Kelly's old teammate Nicole Branagh. It was a great break from the city and all the meetings. Our time in SF came to end. We headed back to the 'greater LA area' also known at The OC.


Charlie Leadbeater has released an interesting book on mass creativity and innovation (well sort of released, it's actually now online for mass collaboration). We-Think: the power of mass creativity. Here's an excerpt:
The basic argument is very simple. Most creativity is collaborative. It combines different views, disciplines and insights in new ways. The opportunities for creative collaboration are expanding the whole time. The number of people who could be participants in these creative conversations is going up largely thanks to the communications technologies that now give voice to many more people and make it easier for them to connect. As a result we are developing new ways to be innovative and creative at mass scale. We can be organised without having an organisation. People can combine their ideas and skills without a hierarchy to coordinate their activities. Many of the ingredients of these forms of self-organised creative collaboration are not new - peer review for example has been around a long time in academia. But what is striking about Wikipedia, Linux, Second Life, Youtube and many more is the way they take familiar ingredients and combine them to allow people to collaborate creatively at mass scale.
The rest is here: http://www.wethinkthebook.net/book/home.aspx ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the website)

Charles Leadbeater is one the world's leading authorities on innovation and creativity in organisations. He has advised companies, cities and governments around the world on innovation strategy and drawn on that experience in writing his latest book We-think: why mass creativity is the next big thing, which charts the rise of mass, participative approaches to innovation from science and open source software, to computer games and political campaigning.



Rehearsal Dinner Video

Rob and Kristen Rehearsal Dinner Video
The video shown at the rehearsal dinner. More pictures and videos to come from the wedding.

Write and Read E-mails Better

Recently I read an article from entrepreneur.com regarding reading and writing emails better. I thought I'd pass on a few of the recommendations. Most are obvious but that doesn't mean they are easy to follow. Enjoy. How to Write Better:
  • Use a subject line to summarize, not describe.
  • When you copy lots of people (a heinous practice that should be used sparingly), mark out why each person should care.
  • Use separate messages rather than bcc (blind carbon copy)
  • Make action requests clear.
  • Make your e-mail one page or less.
  • Understand how people prefer to be reached and how quickly they respond.
How to Read Better:
  • Check e-mail at defined times each day.
  • Use a paper "response list" to triage messages before you do any follow-up.
  • Charge people for sending you messages. [I like this one]
  • Answer briefly.
  • Ignore it.
For the entire article please go to http://entrepreneur.com/technology/howtoguide/article76952.html About the author:

Stever Robbins is an authority on overwhelm in the workplace. A veteran of nine startups (can you say: overwhelm to the max?) over 25 years, Stever co-designed the "Foundations" segment of Harvard's MBA program. He is the author of It Takes a Lot More than Attitude to Lead a Stellar Organization, and has appeared on CNN-fn and in the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily and Harvard Business Review. Stever and his monthly newsletter can be found at http://SteverRobbins.com/.


Drive home from Yahoo! Music

Yesterday on my way home to Orange County from a lunch meeting at Yahoo! Music, in Santa Monica, I decided to count how many times I changed the radio the station in search the music I felt like listening to. I lost count after 20 switches -- and that was before I had made it to the Rosecrans exit -- less than 15 miles away. Granted my ADD might have something to do with this but I'd like to think there might be something wrong with the current stations and how they are organized. First off, I've been gone for a year and can't remember what each station plays so I'm forced to use the dreaded scan button in hopes that a song is playing (which I might is very difficult. At one point I think I had a streak of 10 stations without music. Could you imagine if you had to go to 10 restaurants before you could get served??). Music provider problems: - getting the product to the customer with the least amount of hassle (distribution) Listner problems for music providers: - not many listeners know exactly what they want anyway (unusual behavior) - ADD is truly an issue


Google vs. Yahoo

It's not an easy choice. Since 1999, I've been a yahoo guy and over the last year I've been 'testing' google. I will break it down like a pre-game analysis based on my own personal experiences:
  • E-mail funcationality (Advantage Google)
  • E-mail loyalty (Advantage Yahoo!)
  • Webhosting (Advantage Yahoo!)
  • Search (Adv Google)
  • Personal page. i.e., My Yahoo!, Personalized Page (Adv Google)
  • Fantasy Sports (Adv Yahoo!)
  • News (Adv Yahoo!)
  • Finance (Adv Yahoo!)
  • Overall style (Adv Google)
  • Content (Adv Yahoo!)
So based on my current metrics (unweighted) Yahoo! is leading 6 to 4. However, based on current new products being produced by Google (like google documents, spreadsheets) as well as recent acquisitions like YouTube, Blogger, Picasa and many more Google gets an additional 2 points for movement. So based on mcfaddenplace.com's super computer we have a tie. We'll see what happens but I'll tell you I am torn. I like both but especially in terms of e-mail and personal pages it's not feasible to think I'll maintain both. I'll try to post more on this subject in later posts. In the meantime here's an interesting note: The new Yahoo Photos has the right mix of features and ease of use | News.blog | CNET News.com


Home-price comparison

9 of the top 10 most expensive spots to own a four-bedroom house are in California. Why again are we thinking of moving back? Home-price comparison, Top 25 - Sep. 27, 2006


Oxford MBA Graduation

Kelly created a short video with images from the last week at Oxford. Hear Graeme Glover sing at the graduation ceremony and view pictures from the Turf Tavern, Sheldonian Theatre, and the Examination building. You can also see a few more pictures at www.mcfaddenplace.com (click on graduation link)


Off to the Sheldonian

  Graduation starts in just over an hour. Kelly and I are going to take a walk and save some seats for the family. We can't believe it's already here. More pictures and videos to come. Much love, Kelly and Mike Posted by Picasa


1,000 miles for Alzheimer's

Our good friend, Paul Rode, who is respected by many and feared by all has just announced his bid to raise £2,000 for the Dorking and District Alzheimer’s Group. He is riding his tricycle 1,000 miles across England. Okay, so it's a real road bike, but seriously for more information please check out 1,000 miles. Best of luck Paul.


Nigerian Report on Team Oxford

Well, the major newspaper in Lagos - ThisDay - published an article on the Oxford students that worked there all summer. Below is the article that was published. Oxford University/Access Bank Partnership: Courting the Knowledge edge... 09.03.2006
Glitt Personality They are four MBA students from the prestigious Oxford University. A Chinese lady, Lijun Jiang; Michael J Mcfadden and Jayne Thorpe, both from the US; and from the home turf, Timothy Ojo. And what is the quartet's mission to Nigeria? They are on an eight-week Oxford/Access Scheme with particular focus on leveraging the strategy and service delivery content of retail banking. While imparting ideas on brand strategy, service delivery standards and knowledge retail banking to Access Bank Plc., they are expected to take back home something of the work ethic, business philosophy, culture, socio-economic milieu and even political peculiarities of both Access Bank Plc and Nigeria. The scenario is expected to enrich the cross-Atlantic knowledge bank. Incidentally, this is the first such project between Access and Oxford. Actually, the first with any bank in Nigeria. Beyond this, it is also the first such project from the MBA class in Oxford to come to Nigeria. Obviously this scenario surely transcends retail banking. But then in knowledge acquisition projects, apparently setting too stringent boundaries may defeat the fundamental attraction of the quest. Shaka Momodu encountered the four knowlegde 'explorers' to glean something of their quest within the larger context of Access Bank's courting of the sector's knowledge edge to move them to the next level... Lijun Jiang We open with the the Chinese lady Lijun Jiang, bowing to the old English tradition of 'ladies first'. What the ancient Chinese culture, which predates the English, has to say on this is a matter for another expose. She comes across as a very focused personality. She speaks politely but with the alluring unmistakeable lilt of her Chinese tongue. Who is Lijun Jiang? "My name is Lijun Jiang. I come from China and I have worked with China commercial bank for more than 16 years. I graduated from Beijing University, which is one of the best Universities in China. I studied English Literature and Language for my undergraduate degree. I have spent 12 years working in the Foreign Exchange section of the bank and four years as a branch manager, I was also in charge of Marketing and Operations. I also worked as the General Manager of Commercial and Financial Department." Why is Jiang on this Oxford/Access scheme? She smiled, looking somewhat amused "We are very fortunate that Access Bank could offer us this precious opportunity to be part of this wonderful project in Africa. And one of the reasons that I am also interested in it is the fact it has afforded me opportunity to come Africa. Another reason is that I think that I can contribute to the Retail Business in Access Bank." Has Jiang learnt anything in the past seven weeks she's been in Nigeria, especially concerning Access Bank? She took a deep breath, then paused. "This bank is young but very forward thinking especially its top management. They are set to lift this bank to the world class commercial - retail bank. The technology level is quit high, they have made a lot of investments in the technology which is one of the most advanced in the world, to increase their competencies. "This is quite impressive, but in terms of Retail banking I think it is not just only Access Bank, all the other Nigerian banks are at the starting point, compared to China. We would help them develop strategies to their brands, especially retail brand, we also tried to develop a blueprint for Retail banking which I think it is one of the most important issues that the bank has to confront." Jiang seems to place a lot of emphases on retail banking. Is that her area of specialization in China? "That is what we are going to contribute, they asked us to do that Access Bank used to be very strong in proper banking and commercial banking, they have strong potentials to grow and they are quite passionate the future of the bank. And am impressed. Nigerian people we decent, they love new things, they people want to do business with the bank. I see great potentials here." The passion was clearly unmistakable, and the temptation to probe her further was irresistable. "I can come back in the future to develop matual business between Access bank and China bank, for now, I have to go back to my bank because I was sponsored by them, it is quite interesting because China bank is also undergoing very rapid growth and we must exchange ideas and experience. I would encourage my bank to her into a relationship with Access bank." Impressed by her sharp understanding it was naturally interesting to find out what she learnt about the bank, the people and culture. "We visited some cultural sites and we watched some events. We have made a lot of contacts with the Nigerian people and some are good in persons, such as the bank's staff here. They are quite dedicated to their work, they have the strong ambition to make their bank the leading bank here but generally the living condition here especially the infrastructure, are quite backward compare even with China. They still have a long way to improve the whole country, investments environment and the peoples living standards. They must try to solve the problems of poverty and the health issues because a member of our team is down with a very serious high malaria." Michael J. Mcfadden He flaunts the usual American confidence. And with good reason. He has the professional track record and wherewithal to back it up. Who is Mcfadden? "My name is Michael J Mcfadden, a student at the University of Oxford, studying business for MBA. I am originally from the United States, from California, working for the food manufacturer, Head of New Products and Marketing. I came over to Oxford for my MBA to round off my marketing experience in finance and entrepreneural skills. I chose Access bank to come and work in Lagos, Nigeria for a few reasons. One of those reasons I wanted to come and work with Access bank is that it is a growing company that has ernomous potentials operating in a highly competitive banking industry. The opportunity to come in and make impact over the weeks and to work with such a vibrant team are irresistible." Did he chose Access Bank on his own? And before now did he know about Access bank? "We chose Access on our own. Basically there are 50 projects which students go and work in different countries of the world. Some go for IBM in New Zealand, in India, working for government areas. Our perception and views on Access bank to become a world class bank. "Throughout the year before I came here I have been aware of Access Bank. I came from the United States I was performing entrepreneur tasks at Oxford, England, getting to know more about the industry. We have six Nigerians on the project, so I was able to learn quite a bit about Nigeria and I got to come over here. So, I am here to learn and I am in the middle of the seventh week, I am spending eight weeks." According McFadden, choosing Nigeria was influenced by couple of reasons. "One, I guess there is a lot of options to coming into West Africa. Why did I decide to come to Nigeria? A country that has so much potentials and is moving in a very clear and delicate situation. Over the next five years it is going to be ten times greater, so to be here in the midst of that and to be a part and hopefully contributing to that moving forward was quite an honour." In his perception, what exactly does this programme aim to achieve? He wasted no time articulating the objectives of their mission. "We had a couple of objectives in coming down here, one is to help establish the Retails brand of Access bank so as Access is strong in commercial and corporate bank but it can also position itself in the marketplace as a retail bank. We are doing that to help bring marketing and consumer skills into the banking and into the group. They have a strong team there to help bring certain knowledge and we have certain experiences. "The second aspect of our objective was to bring in some service delivery standard not only in the retail but in the bank as a whole. We have been doing that with several other sectors within Nigeria. You see what Virgin Nigeria has accomplished within their short stay here. One of the members of our team Lijan is from China and has spent 16 years working for a bank there. So, there is a lot of experience to kind of transfer down here." What is his assessment of the bank so far? Listen to him. "On a personal standpoint, I have being very impressed with the professionalism, the attention to details, and the vision of the team of managers for the bank. We didn't actually appreciate what we were stepping into and so as we have spent 7 weeks and we have seen the DNA of the company. It has been fascinating to see the diligence, the hardworking culture, which is a culture thing within Access bank. There is hardwork and determination among the workers, we have been quite impressed at all levels. I am impressed with the Aig, the Managing Director, am impressed with all levels within the number of branches." What has he seen so far that is different from what he is learning in Oxford and where he comes from? "In the UK, their service is poor in retail banking. So, to come here and know that there is a striving for improved standard, striving to be world class is an thing amazement to me. There are still a number of parts that need to move and work together but I would that say that of the banking industry as a whole, especially, the consolidation of the past year which is still young. But it has made a huge start that would eventually lead it to a world-class company, comparable to any other in the world." How would what he has learnt here benefit the Business School in Oxford ? "I will tell you one thing that I will be taking away is seeing how running a business within a country whose political situation is where it is, coming up in an election year it is fragile. It has made a huge step forward but now we are coming into another part to see how a strong bank like Access is moving in a certain direction. On top of that, in such a competitive industry you can read case studies, you can look at the way businesses function in the UK, in Europe, in the US but to be in the middle of a Ground Zero is fascinating." What is he taking away from Access Bank? "One thing that I would take away for sure is the work ethics, there were days that I left the office at 11.00pm and I was not the last person to leave. Every day, I would get up at 6.00 a.m and you find people already working in the office. The workers there work extremely hard, I would take that away for sure. "The other thing that I would take away is the youthful spirit, the energy, the excitement are the other things that I would take away from Access Bank. Then the pride in an healthy way, the people at Access Bank are proud to be there, you don't necessary see that in every business across the world." If Access Bank offers him the opportunity to work with them, would he accept? "I would consider it, I brought my wife here for the first four weeks that I was here. She back home now in California, I would give it a big consideration." Did he make friends? Mcfadden answeres in the affirmative. Is this the first partnership work between Access Bank and Oxford University? "This is the first project between Access and Oxford and it is the first with any bank in Nigeria, this is the first project from the MBA class in Oxford to come to Nigeria. There have been few projects in South Africa, in Egypt, in Morocco, but this is the first project with any bank. We hope that the relationship continues, we have improved. We have learnt immensely." Lastly, would he consider settling in Nigeria and if not what would he take away from Nigeria as a whole? "I don't know if we would permanently stay over a long time because of our families, maybe when we have a direct flight to LA, but it would be wonderful for both countries if we could restore direct flights. I will be leaving on Friday, August 25. I would take away the laughter, the smiles in the country are quite inspiring, I would take those things away. And interestingly, you could shop in the traffic, just anything. It is amazing." Jayne Thorpe She is the second American in the Oxford quartet. A lively fellow in all the senses who brings some precision to her talks. Hear her: "My name is Jayne Thorpe and I am from North Carolina in the United States, I am from a family of five children where everyone else is a doctor but I am the Black sheep, I am an Accountant. I decided to go to Business School because I wanted to get more of finance. I decided on Oxford Business School because I wanted to do a one year programme and of course I wanted the international experience." Why did she choose to come to Nigeria? "I had this thing in my head that I want to go to Africa and so when the offer came I saw it as an opportunity that would be just perfect. What we here to do but wasn't my strength which is marketing but it involves Retail Banking. We had a very well rounded team." Why not South Africa and what has she learnt from this programme? "I wanted to spend the entire period in Africa so that I can get a grip of it, the other reason is that I came to introduce a project which has been very well received. I think that we came down here with a different perspective on what we are going to be able to achieve and what we have achieved. I think we have achieved a lot more than we thought we are going to achieve as far as helping to develop a retail banking is concerned. We helped develop new products including products that would hopefully be launched very soon and the ones that would be launched next year. "We also helped developed financing models by making sure that the products are profitable or what actually is the goal of a particular product. If your new product is customer acquisition then we are not going to think of making some profits. Another thing about the bank is it quality service management and we are excited about what we have been able to do here." What is his assessement of the bank itself? Right now I feel very, very good. Their marketing skill is phenomenonal and their energy is incredible with everyone working so late in the night yet they will be at their desks by 7.00am the next day. I feel very inspired, I see the people as the member resource that the bank has." Tell me, if the opportunity to work for Access Bank presents itself, would she accept it? She laughs: "May be in the future, near future. I intend to come back to Africa." What has she learnt about Nigeria within the short period of stay? "They are very business-minded and sociable. I visited an orphanage here in order to see the real Africa not just looking at it from inside of a bank. Corporate responsibility make institutions leaders in their sectors and there is much more to be done to uplift the society." Can she make a bit of comparison between working for a bank in Nigeria and the United States? "I have worked with a retail bank before doing some other work but they did not work this hard. Banking in Nigeria, keeps bankers on their toes 24 hours a day. In New York city people work so hard, Access Bank would be a fine comparison to that. I have worked in Chicago, generally, Americans are hardworking people. But I have learnt here that Nigerians are just as hardworking. I really appreciate that." What is she taking away from Access Bank? "What I learnt was the way to work at strategy. And it is great." Timothy Ojo The fourth member of the visiting Oxford MBA class is Mr. Timothy Ojo. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from the Obafemi Awolowo University Ife, He has over 8 years professional banking experience in between Nigeria and the UK during which he has garnered relevant experience across key banking functions which includes business development, product development, relationship management and core banking operations. Prior to his MBA programme at the prestigious Oxford University, He worked with the Small Business division of the retail-banking arm of Barclays, where he was substantially involved in client relationship management. While at Barclays, Timothy was involved in the re-design of one of the banks leading business products and prior to that helped set-up the Wealth Management unit at Skabol Finance and Investment Management Ltd. He has worked with a couple of Nigerian Banks amongst which include EcoBank Nigeria, Fidelity Bank and Equitorial Trust Bank. He currently led a team of 4 Oxford University students to Access Bank Plc on a Strategic Consulting Project as part of the assessment for the MBA programme and building partnerships across international borders. Timothy is a recipient of the University of Oxford's SBS Scholarship Award.


Kelly and Michael Reunite!

  It's been too long since Kelly and I have been together. 27 days to be exact and tomorrow we will be back together. Kelly flies from LAX to Berlin and I'm going to meet her there. Niether of us can wait. It's been way too long. As far as our trip to Germany, we'll spend a few days touring east and west Berlin and then drive south. After a stop in Prague we'll head to Munich where we'll meet up with my cousin Marty McFadden and his wife Anne. Posted by Picasa


Jayne Thorpe Update

  Some claim Nigeria beat Jayne, others say the mosquitos were just too persistent, either way the fact remains Jayne Thorpe had to be admitted to the local hospital. After a week's battle with Malaria the pain and headaches never ceased. So for 3 days and 2 nights Jayne was under observation at the Reddington Hospital. It's still not clear whether she had malaria, typhoid or some other sickness but she's fine now. In fact, she was well enough to put in two 12 hour days on the final report so that we could finish before we left Nigeria. Jayne is a trooper. And to all the folks at Access Bank: thanks for your thoughts, prayers and visits. It was very heart warming to know that 10+ people from Access Bank (including the MD/CEO Aig) stopped by to see how Jayne was doing. Welcome back to England Jayne. Posted by Picasa


A Link to Getting a Job in Silicon Valley

I must admit that I have become a blog reader. Sometimes I'm proud of it and sometimes I find it as useless as playing Free Cell on the computer. That being said I do like to promote those that generally put out good content. Recently Guy Kawasaki published an article on 'everything you wanted to know about getting a job in Silicon Vally'. Signum sine tinnitu--by Guy Kawasaki: Everything You Wanted to Know About Getting a Job in Silicon Valley But Didn't Know Who to Ask I would have to say this is quite comprehensive and very informative - not only for tech companies but all companies in general. You can bet I'll be referring to this over the next 3 months as I focus on the next chapter in my life. Enjoy, Michael PS I will be creating a new edition of the McFadden Resume in a 1/2/3 format as suggested. Maybe I'll post both to get your input.


Golfing in Lagos: some good shots and better shocks

Over the past 12 months I've been fortunate enough to play some of the best golf courses in the world ranging from St. Andrews to Muirfield, Carnoustie to Turnberry, and I don't want to forget Royal St. George's and Sunningdale. In my life I've played well over 1,000 rounds totaling more than 18,000 holes (I should mention I still don't have a hole-in-one). That being said, this weekend I had one of the funniest experiences happen to me on the course in Lagos. Ikoyi Golf Club is the best course in Lagos and some argue in all of Nigeria. Granted Nigeria is not known for their golf expeditions but that is quite the claim considering there is more than 130million people in the country. I turned up to the clubhouse without a tee time, no clubs, and only the name of one member (imagine doing that at Augusta or Muirfield). To the First Tee:
My Nigerian Golf Experience
Aug 7, 2006 - 8 Photos
I meet the caddy master in the parking lot and he gives me a head nod and said he'd take care of me. I gave him my handicap and he proudly said he'd 'get me a match.' Next thing I know I've shelled out 2,000 Niara for clubs and 3,500 Niara for my green fee (that is roughly about $50). I stroll to the first tee, 6 different caddies come up to me and give me their name. I still figuring out what was going on when the caddymaster assigned me a vetren caddy with 14 years experience - Julius. I took a look at my rental clubs - slightly dirty, well used, 1994 Lynx irons with an often-played Ping i driver. Not bad, I figured I was going to be using some Arnold Palmer blades or something. The Course: Not bad. First you have to remember I've been in an office for nearly 12 hours a day 5 days a week so just being outside was a blessing. The grass was similar to the crab grass style you find in Florida. Based on looks, the course was green, the greens looked smooth and the fairways were fine. After my first tee shot we strolled through the fairway and I asked my caddy if they 'rolled the ball' in the fairways. Sure enough they did. The fairways were patchy and not all cut but they served their purpose. The greens on the other hand ate my lunch. They looked smooth and fast but they were the slowest greens I've ever played on it. They might have been slower than the fairways at Muirfield. Every putt I had to hammer and I still only got 2 balls past the hole. Now, this isn't a normal course in the sense that is highly secure - walled around the entire course with barbed wire and protection at every point. The Shocker: So if you read this long you deserve to hear this story. After a few holes of chit chat with my caddy I learned he had worked there for 14 years, he had many sibilings and was engaged. He knew I was American studying in England and was married with no kids. Then on the 7th hole as we walked to the green he says "You want a Nigerian woman? You've got to have a Nigerian woman before you leave. I'll bring a good one to you." Wow! I've had a few caddying during my playing days that did about anything for you, but to offer that service ... wow. I told him no and then laughed. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe. By far the most shocking moment I've ever had on a golf course. The Score: I didn't play well to say the least. I two putted every green (not good considering I only hit a few greens in regulation). Finished with a 44, 43. Worst round in well over a year, but who cares. This was an experience.


Malaria hits our team. What about the others?

This weekend Jayne came down with Malaria. She wasn't feeling too well on Friday and Saturday so she went to the clinic and sure enough it was Malaria. Everything is fine but the medicine is taking a toll. We'll keep you updated as time moves on. Elsewhere around the world there are over 45 other Oxford teams working on projects. Check out some of their stories on the SCP (Strategic Consulting Project) News Blog.


Week 4: Kelly's last week in Nigeria

So this will be my last post from Nigeria. Tomorrow (Tuesday the 1st of August) I fly out of Lagos, touch down in London for 24 hours and then head to California. I am looking forward to spending some time with my family, but am so sad to be leaving Mike. At the same time, I cannot imagine being here much longer. When you are not working, there really isn't much for a gal to do! Here is a peek at our last week here in Lagos, Nigeria. We had decided before we got here that we wanted to purchase some local clothing to take home with us. We met with a lady in our home, but it was not quite what we were looking for...And VERY expensive. So we kept looking. We happened to go to a local craft market and came across a shop that had the PERFECT dress for me! The price was right and within 20 minutes she and her staff had tailored it for a perfect fit. Then came Mike. There was nothing there he was crazy about, so the lady offered to make one for him. Mike picked out the material he wanted and Walla! We now both had authentic Nigerian outfits. Here is a picture of the market and the group making them. Friday at work is casual day at the office. So Mike got to wear his new shirt and pants. It just so happens that he was also leading focus groups that day. That's right! Mike's SRG days came in handy in Nigeria. He is now an international moderator. He was running groups for the bank to help on their project. As with the other weekends, we went out on Friday. We found some great live music. We had a great time at De Grotto, listening to the band play all the old hits. Let's just say one of the first songs was Lady in Red and an hour later we were dancing to Madonna. Absolutely classic. We had a great time. Saturday was spent lounging, well at least for Mike and I. Since I am leaving we just took off by ourselves and sat at the pool at a local hotel. While we were there, Lijun and Jayne were stuck in traffic for about 5 hours trying to drive a few miles. We were glad not to be in the car. Instead we lounged, walked for ice cream and stopped off at an internet cafe. That night we also went to an Italian restaurant and enjoyed a pizza together. Sunday was awesome. Mike, Jayne and I headed to church. The service runs from 9 - 11:30. There was singing and dancing and a few messages given. We felt right at home - mostly because we wore our new outfits. The message touched on letting God take care of life's storms. That he knows the perfect mix for each of us in our lives. There will be joyful times and sad times, but the Lord is always there in the midst. So call on Him! Here is a picture of all of us after church wearing our Nigerian attire.


Class of 96 - Laser Optics Picture

Probably the most disappointing part of being in Nigeria will be missing my 10-year reunion on August 5th. My old Laser Optics teacher just emailed out a picture from our class -- boy did that bring back some memories. I'll let you look at the picture and try to find out who I am. If any former Pomona High Schoolers are reading this just know I miss the Big Black! Have a great time and I guess I'll see you at the 15 year reunion. Go Panthers, Mike


VIDEO: A Day in the Life in Lagos

An Oxford MBA team is spending 8 weeks in Lagos on a consulting project with Access Bank. In the next 3.5 minutes, mcfaddenplace productions will take you to where the team, Jayne Thorpe, Lijun Jiang, Timothy Ojo, and Michael McFadden, are working diligently on their task at hand. Be on the watch out for a special guest appearance by Kelly McFadden.


Weekend 3: The Beach!

This last week was filled with some ups and downs. As with anything when you are working hard and abroad, the middle weeks can be the toughest. The long hours start to get to you, you miss the food you are used to and the adventurous spirit that brought you where you are isn't quite as amped as before. For the most part, Nigeria has been wonderful. The people are kind and welcoming (except during traffic, but, hey, same as LA right? Traffic can make the nicest person an animal.) Of course, we made it through the week, with the team working from early in the morning until late. I decided to mix things up a bit and spent a day at Terra Kulture enjoying the cafe and took another day to meet Mike for lunch. Mike and I also got a chance to see Superman one night after work and it was nice to get out and about just the two of us. But as with anyone working hard, it is the weekend that you most look forward to. And this weekend, we definitely enjoyed ourselves. Friday night we headed out to a newer place called "Soul Lounge." We enjoyed ourselves at this trendy stop with friends from the Access office and a visit from Mike's classmate Dapo (shown right with Jayne). Saturday morning, Mike and I got up early and headed to a local cafe that we had found. We sat for a few hours sipping on coffee for him and a fruit smoothie for me. We played backgammon and chatted. It was a wonderful way to start the day. From there, we walked home and then hopped in the car and headed to Oba Elegushi Market (pictured on the far right). It is a local crafts market with tons of African souvenirs. We had fun poking around and even bought a few mementos to take home. We spent the late afternoon lounging around watching the British Open, felt like home, before heading out for dinner and then meeting up with some friends for an Ice Cream at Chocolat Royal - the same stop we had had breakfast at that morning. The picture on the right is of some local kids playing football in the street on our way to breakfast. I love that they are using old tires for goals! But the true highlight of the weekend was Sunday. Up early and at church at 8, we met some locals and joined them for Sunday School at a church just a block away. Sadly we had to leave early as we had made plans to go on an excursion to the beach. But what a day it was. It was our first day since we have been here that had more sunshine than clouds. After taking a 30 minute boat ride, we spent the day on lounge chairs listening to the waves crash a few feet away. At 1, we were called into lunch and enjoyed a delicious Nigerian meal with both surf and turf and sipped on ice cold cokes. The rest of the afternoon was spent playing volleyball, ping pong, swimming and Mike even got into a football game with some of the local children and other tourists who were with our group. Mike and I are a bit red today but we couldn't be happier! It was a relaxing and wonderful day. Besides our group and the locals, there were only a few others on this island beach. It was remote and wonderful to be away from the honking and sirens that are non-stop all over this city. We feel refreshed and renewed for the rest of our adventure. So now it is Monday. Mike is back to work, and I am working on my talks for YSSC, writing my monthly devotionals and getting a swim in a few days a week. I only have one more week left to be here, so I will make the most of it and be sure to do one last update before I leave next week.


Weekend 2: Live Performance

Well, you may be wondering why the blog's I write are titled based on the weekends. The answer to that is simple, there is not much going on during the week. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Mike and his SCP group do not get home until after 8 or 8:30. Two things happen then, we sit down and have dinner (I have cooked for the group and so has Lijun and Emanuel - our friend and helper) and the drivers need to get home. So unless we are buying some groceries, for the most part we are in the Guest House by 8:30 on weekdays. So that brings us to our second weekend. Friday night we headed out with Gebode, again. He has now been our WONDERFUL host two weekends in a row. He is really nice, and super fun. He also seems to know everyone everywhere and is never at a loss for things to do. Here he is pictured with Lijun, Jayne and myself. Next is a picture from the outside of the National Theater on the Lagos mainland. We fought through unbelievable traffic on Saturday trying to get to the crafts area near the theater. Turns out it is closed on Saturdays. Ooops. So we went across the street and walked through a small history museum in the theater. It was neat to learn a bit about the history of Nigeria although it was a bit hard to hear, because there was a wedding going on right below us. The Nigerian's really know how to throw a party! The picture next to it is from the bridge heading back to Lagos Island. I know I have shared before about how people sell things on the street, but this was truly unique. In this case, the bridge was almost closed down because there were so many people walking over it selling there goods (fruit to cleaning supplies to baskets, etc.) In one spot, a van had parked and was selling out of the back of their car. It felt like LA traffic...it took 45 minutes to move a mile. That's right. Mike got his haircut on Saturday when we got back. I know Mike will share more about his experience soon, so be sure to check the website and blog later. We stopped at the Eko Hotel to look at crafts (Mike and I had actually been there earlier playing tennis. Much like Wimbledon we got rained out. But we were glad to be outside.) The Eko Hotel is the only 5 star hotel in Lagos, although there are rumors of a Hyatt coming soon. Later that night we ate with Robert and Wei (the amazing couple that lets me come to their home each day to be on the internet and swim) at a Thai restaurant. It was delicious! Probably my favorite meal since we have been here. After we ate, we went to the popular club "Thistle" on Victoria Island. There was a band their energy was contagious. Definitely my favorite club that we playing. The music was awesome. The guys were jamming and have been to. Sunday was also jam packed. We headed off on an adventure to find the Lekki Art Mart. Instead of finding that, we (from left to right: Dele - our new friend and driver, Jayne, Lijun, & us) ended up at the Lekki Nature Reserve. I had read about it and knew that we would have the chance to see monkeys and alligators. We were excited for our adventure and not sure what to expect. What we did see was snakes (ew!), crabs, birds and lizards. And there is proof on all of our ankles that there were plenty of mosquitoes there too. One of the highlights was the tree house. We got to sit up in the canopy of a tree and look out. It felt like the Swiss family Robinson. That's me climbing up the steps of the ladder. The other picture is of Mike on the boardwalk that takes you through the swamp. There were some parts of it that need a little work done. Although we were a bitten a bit, we are still glad to have been able to walk around without hearing the sound of horns. Definitely worth the walk and the N300 it cost us (roughly $2.50). The last thing we did on Sunday was visit Terra Kulture. It is located close to where we live. We went to see a live performance by a local group that really captured the essence of old Nigeria and the more modern world. The performances were full of energy and we loved seeing the show. This was a definite highlight of our time in Lagos. Well, I think that is about all to report. Week 3 has begun and Mike is back to the grind. It is hard to believe I am only here for two more weeks. Guess I will continue to make the most of it and the most of our weekends! Hugs to everyone back home. Kelly


Weekend 1: A necessary break

Well, we have made it through our first week in Lagos, Nigeria. Here is a bit more of a glance at our time here so far. The first picture you see on the left is a picture of the pool where I spend quite a bit of my time. As I mentioned before, I am able to go to one of Mike's coworkers home each day and enjoy their pool, gym and internet for which I am eternally grateful. Think I would have gone stir crazy by now without their generosity. Lagos is not a "walk around" city for lack of a better expression. Mike and I have been plucked from the world of walk everywhere England, to drive everywhere Lagos. And without a downtown type area, there are not really any places to drive to. Next a picture of what Mike and I call Nigerian Frogger. A part of the reason there are not very many shops to go to is because you can buy just about anything and everything as you drive along the road. The route onto Victoria Bridge is one place where there are always tons of people walking through the traffic selling goods. You can buy bread, fruit, nuts, clocks, phone cards, dvds, watches, sunglasses, etc. Probably our favorite thing we have seen for sale so far was a tripod. It is unreal. We are planning on going to one of the markets this weekend. So we'll see what we find there, but I have a feeling it is more of the same. This next picture is from our night out on Friday. We were taken out by Gebode (spelling probably not correct). First we went to The Gallaria which housed a movie theater, book and music store, restaurants and a bar. We grab a drink at the sports bar and then headed to go dancing. We ended up at a place that is a chinese restaurant by day and a club by night. It was very nice and we saw quite a few other expats there. After that we headed to Ynot. That is what the picture is of. Mike played pool with a guy for about an hour. They just kept playing and trading off who was winning. It was fun to watch. But we decided to call it a night after that. We were escorted to our car and patient Ola took us home from there. We were planning on hitting some markets and such on Sunday, but have now learned that everyone goes to church on Sunday and most things are closed. Goal for this next weekend: do fun things on Saturday, go to church and beach on Sunday. Last I wanted to introduce you to our first big bug. We knew they were coming. Mike fought against (and won) this gigantic cockroach. It was in our bathroom. My hero. We will have more updates later this week. Mike was in the capitol, Abuja. He said it is totally different. He arrives home late tonight. I can't wait to see him! Hugs to you all from Nigeria.


And now, the moment you've all been waiting for...

Pictures from Nigeria!! First a look at the "Guest House" The far pictures is of the front door. That's our pad! The closer one is from the steps looking back towards the guard gate. Next are a few pictures from the inside. The Giant room Mike and I share, and the downstairs common area for the four (soon to be five) of us. Right: 8am and the gang is off to work. Ola, our trusty driver, picks them up promptly so they can head in. Below is a picture from Command Central, Access Bank. Tim, Mike & Lijun are hard at work in the conference room that is now their office. Hope that satisfies some of you curious family and friends for now. I am sure we will post some more after the weekend. Hugs from Nigeria, The McFaddens


Day 3 in Nigeria

Well, I would say we are starting to find a little bit of the routine here in Lagos. At 7am the alarm goes off and we hop out of bed. Mike gets in the shower, dresses and then we all gather downstairs and eat some breakfast. Usually by 8:15 we get in the car and Ola (our driver) takes us to work. When we get in, he is has his music playing. I think of it as Rasta Gospel music. We meander down the roads to Access Bank where the MBA’s are hoping to leave a mark. They get out of the car and head up the steps, and I (Kelly) stay in the car and head to Robert’s house. The time: 8:30. Robert works for Access Bank and has been here for a few months. His girlfriend, Wei, arrived only a few days before us. They offered up there place for me to go to, use the internet, swim in their pool or use their work out facilities. Wei works from home in the morning (she is a translator), so I busy myself using the internet, writing, working out or reading on the couch. Then in the afternoon when she is done, we head out to run errands or explore a bit of Lagos. It is a huge blessing to have someone who is in the same situation and to have somewhere to go with someone who knows a bit more about Lagos than me (she spent two weeks here a few months ago). Anyways, Mike spends his day in meetings right now. A lot of what they are doing is learning about the bank. It is a crash course in Access and Nigerian banking. They have visited a few of the branches and I believe they will be sitting in on focus groups today and tomorrow. That should be especially interesting for Mike who spent a lot of time at SRG working with and leading focus groups. Around five or six, I head back to “The Guest House.” I think some days I will cook and some days I will read or just wait for the gang to get home. Either way, they arrive somewhere around 8:30pm (yes, a 12 hour day and that is not considered overtime in Nigeria) we all make/eat dinner and the last few nights have watched the World Cup. Mike actually discovered yesterday that we have ESPN on our TV, considering that he has not watched that since we left last summer, he responded as any kid in a candy store would. So that is basically what we have done so far. I am sure this basic schedule will be peppered with trips to the markets, random excursions, and some nights out at the clubs (Nigeria is famous for them), which I will be sure to report about. But with how hard these guys will work, they will mostly be relaxing in the evenings and getting ready for the next day. Pictures are coming…



Hey – Just wanted to let you know that we made it to Lagos. The flight was uneventful, but that is the kind we like: A movie, a wonderful Nigerian chicken and rice dish, a nap and a few games of backgammon and we were there. When we arrived, there was a driver and car waiting for us and helping us navigate from the airport. It was an hour drive to Victoria Island. Since the work day in Nigeria is 8am to 8pm we actually were driving during rush hour. The roads were packed. Luckily we were driving against the traffic, so for the most part we had a non-congested ride. It was dark when we got in, not quite like the late light of England which stays bright until 10! So we were unable to see much of our surroundings. In certain areas there were quite a few people all along the sides of the roads. When we asked Tim (one of Mike’s classmates who is Nigerian) about this, he explained that it was people waiting to catch the buses home. Certain parts of the streets were lined with vendors, cars and people crowding and attempting to get food and get home. As we expected the driving here is not the organized system we are used to. It is every man for himself. If you want to move forward you find the open spot and take it before the person next to you does. Not a blinker, but two little honks lets you know that you are merging. The first thing we did once in Nigeria (besides navigating the streets) was get some food. When in Nigeria, do as the Nigegrians…we went for Chinese. Lijun, who is from China, was very pleased with this choice. And in fact, actually said it was just like home. It tasted just like home to me to. It was a great meal and a very nice restaurant. From there we headed to our new home. “The Guest House” is near where Mike and his team will be working. If you decide to come for a visit, to get in, you simply need to pull up to the gate and lay on your horn. If you do this, a man named Emmanuel will come out and open the gate for you. Emmanuel is our resident helper – he will be helping with all our basic needs while we are there – food, ironing, household upkeep, etc. Let me take you inside. Walk up a few steps and you are in our new home. To the left, is a kitchen – it has all your basic needs – fridge, freezer, sink, microwave. A kitchen. But the front door basically brings you into a large sitting room. It is bi-level. The main level has the dining table that looks more like a board room table, as it can seat probably 10-15 people easily. The lower of the split levels is the sitting room. It has a few couches as well as a large TV. Looks like we will get to watch the World Cup! (We have become addicts – especially since Mike has a classmate from almost every country that was playing.) Turn back towards the front door and you will see on your left the stairs that take you up to the bedrooms. At the top of the steps there is another large sitting room that has five doors off of it. Behind door number one: Timothy Ojo’s room. A king size bed, personal refrigerator, television, desk and private bathroom. The room is huge! In fact, you could fit almost Mike’s and my Oxford flat into that space. Behind door number two: Our room. Actually it is the mirror image of room #1. Who says I won’t be going for runs while I am here, I will just take jogs around my bedroom. Door #3 & #4 are mirror rooms to each other. Lijun and Jayne will be in those rooms and door number five is their shared bathroom. These rooms are a bit smaller with double beds, tv’s, refrigerators and desks. Not sure what tomorrow (or today for that matter) will bring. More adventure, I am sure. I will try to get some pictures out as soon as possible. For me, I will only have access to internet every few days, as I will need to come into the office to get online. For Mike, you may hear from him a bit more, but with working 12 hour days, he will definitely be very, very busy. A plus note for me, a Canadian man named Robert who works at the bank, mentioned his girl friend has just arrived and their place has a pool…I have been invited to spend my days there as he says it is a much nicer place with more amenities. I didn’t want to be rude, so I agreed to spend the day there. J Well, off to try to get cell phones worked out. Mike and I are definitely in for an adventure while we are here. We are excited to see what each day will bring. Love you all. Cheers, Kelly Marie McFadden