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Thoughts From Abbott’s Inbox May 6th, 2022

Thoughts From My Inbox

May 6th, 2022

College Admissions, Dumb Ways to Die, and Millennials

I think the hackers took much of the week off, as my inbox was pretty light on security related topics (I did manage to work both passwords and business email compromise into the rotation), but that means I could spend more time on the really random things that appeared. College admissions being much more marketing driven, Australian public transport and their marketing efforts, and big corporate art collections are just a few of the interesting topics this week. Enjoy!


Something About…


College Admissions
I read a WSJ article a few weeks back which mentioned the huge increase in applications that some of the elite colleges and universities in the country have seen.  Harvard, for example, had 60,000 applications for 2,000 spots.  It was the same for most of the other Ivies as well as Cal, Stanford, etc.  I guess the rest of the bunch are on the opposite end, as this piece on college admissions marketing directors and efforts claims enrollment declines of 1.6% and 3% for private and public institutions, respectively.  Anyhow, it’s interesting to read about admissions offices using CRMs and data analytics to make their reach more precise.  I was shocked a few years back to learn that schools were using “demonstrated interest” as part of the admissions process; how many times has an interested student visited campus and how many marketing emails have they opened (and how quickly) are just a couple of the data points measured.


Coca Cola Hack
A Russian hacking group has vowed to take revenge on companies that have eliminated their Russian operations due to the current war wit Ukraine.  Target #1 was Coca-Cola, and they seem to have succeeded;  they claim to have stolen 161GB of data and have it for sale for $640K (16M bitcoin).  Wonder who’s next on the list…


Progressive Art

I worked at Progressive Insurance for nine years (in at least six buildings), so I had plenty of opportunity to see much of their corporate art collection. Now they have an app for those who want to see more of it.  You don’t have to be an employee- anybody can download from the Apple Store (Android app soon to follow) and peruse the collection.  I’m told that many of their employees will never go back to the office (word is that they’re letting their leases expire and will offer some sort of co-work structure for the 25% of employees who want to be on site), so they’re probably trying to find value in their collection.  (This reminds me of the time that somebody brought in a drawing by their three year old, hung it on a wall in a public space, and added a card with the description of the work and the artist.  It all looked very official, until the corporate art department found out about it. They didn’t appreciate the humor.)

Dumb Ways to Die

Warning; this song will still be going through your head when you get to the bottom of this newsletter.   Back in 2012, Melbourne, Australia’s metro transit authority and their agency came up with the idea of a song as part of their campaign to reduce incidents between people and trains.  “Dumb Ways to Die” (according to the article) made iTunes’ Top 10 list, and the video version YouTube was viewed 30 million times in its first two weeks online.  Ten years later, the campaign is still active (and they saw a 21% reduction in train station incidents, year over year).

Real Estate
For $1.2M you can buy this nice house in Brooklyn, NY.  And for another $250K, you can have the wallpaper removed.  Across the East River, and for an additional $23M, you can have your own tastefully decorated and designed seven story townhome.
Hiring Millennials
I went back and forth on this one this morning, as I don’t want to offend my readers.  But considering that four people (four!) told me yesterday how much they look forward to my Friday afternoon efforts, and that all four are my age or older (just slightly), I’m hoping that the majority of my audience will appreciate this.  On the other hand, maybe the millennials in the room will laugh at the old guy who still thinks Facebook is relevant (does anybody still think that Facebook is relevant?)  This was actually sent to me yesterday by a consultant we’re working with, and sadly, our operations director Travis has been seeing this play out first hand, as he looks to bring on some new members of the Ashton team (yes, we’re still hiring).


Side note- there are varying definitions as to when the millennial generation ended (1994-1996), so I’m always very happy that my son was born in 1997!

Business Email Compromise

According to the FBI, global losses due to business email compromise (BEC) over the last five years totals $43 billion.  (BEC occurs when compromised email accounts are used to divert funds to different banks and accounts.)  Between July 2019 and December 2021, BEC losses increased by 65%, with much of that being due to the rise of remote work (which often means less cyber security).   While multifactor authentication is no longer a surefire way to protect against BEC, it’s still the best way to do so.  If you haven’t already enacted MFA on your email accounts, you need to do so, immediately.

39% of Americans include their pets’ names in their passwords (no, mine do not include Brooks, Sherman, or Lily), while 65% reuse passwords for multiple online accounts.  And only 58% of businesses have implemented MFA (see above re: BEC)


Real Estate

We were in NYC last weekend, and while the office occupancy rate remains low (~30% of office workers are back in person), it sure seems that the tourists are back in all their glory.  Based on some of the other real estate listings I’ve shared, this 4BR/3BA at $3.85M seems like quite a reasonable price.  Two Eames chairs in the studio (my wife’s favorite, so I had to share) and it happens that we walked right past the building on Saturday afternoon (and I didn’t even realize it at the time).

So, “Dumb Ways to Die” reminded me a little bit of the old Schoolhouse Rock bits from 70’s Saturday morning cartoons.  I couldn’t find a good version of “I’m Just a Bill” so you’ll get “Conjunction Junction“, instead.  Now you have something new going through your head.


Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby, which means that it’s time for me to send a reminder as to how to make a good mint julep.  There are thousands of recipes online, but I chose this one because it has the two key factors (other than bourbon and mint); a proper julep cup and crushed (not cubed) ice. The crushed ice helps to freeze the sterling or pewter julep cup (think frosted beer glasses), keeping your drink nice and cold. I’m not going to be able to catch the race tomorrow night, but I have offered up a round of juleps for the crowd at the event we’re attending.


Sorry to add more… just as I was about to hit ‘send’, I came across a piece about this weekend’s F1 race in Miami.  It’s the inaugural Miami race on the circuit, and it seems that the course isn’t near the water, as organizers had originally hoped.  So they made a fake ‘bay’ with fake water and real boats.  Wow.


Have a great weekend,



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