@xek tweeted that “Almost everyone who does twitter stats is a fucking moron”.

I was going to say that no one really knows what the hell is going on when it comes to social media, but I believe his estimate adds a greater level of precision.

For example, the tweet reach tool tells me that I reached 17,999 accounts with my tweets from my annmariastat account in the last five days. In contrast, my judo/ personal account reached 30,336 accounts. Does that mean that 18,000 or 30,000 people READ those tweets? I’m pretty certain not.

Ronda’s “reach” is 137,947 even though her number of followers is around 173,000. So I am interpreting this as the number of people you reached OUTSIDE of your followers.

This article says that there are 465 million twitter accounts and that 30% of twitter users have an income over $100,000. Wait, what? Because I know the average income in the US and it is far from $100,000. Maybe richer people have several twitter accounts. I know I have 2. Maybe Bill Gates has 10,000 – but wouldn’t he still just count as one twitter user?

Readwrite.com did have a little more data I could sink my teeth into. They said that 29% of tweets produce a reaction – a reply or retweet. This really surprised me because I had assumed it was far fewer.

7 Generations Game LogoI got interested in this because we have a Kickstarter campaign that just started to support our game to teach math. (Go here to watch the video and pledge. It’s awesome. And I know you have an internet connection because you are reading this.)

Here are how the first 33 pledges broke down, which is the first 10% of our funding – $2,000.

Between my two accounts, I have about 3,400 followers. My daughter, Ronda, has 173,000. We both tweeted about this a couple of times. Ignoring the tweet reach Total = 176,400 Number of pledges from twitter = 10 = 0.0006%

I write two blogs. This one averages about 3,100 visits a day and my judo blog is around 1,000. Total in one day I had the widget link up (look at right)

Number of pledges from blog = 3 = 0.073%

Both of us have our twitter accounts post to Facebook. She has 5,000 friends and I, defining friend loosely as someone I have met at least once, have more like 400 friends. Total = 5,400

Number of pledges from Facebook = 5 = 0.093%

Lastly, I emailed a few dozen or so people in my address book, as did my sister, total = 50.

Number of direct link pledges = 10 = 20%

That’s all for what I did. There were an extra five pledges from the Kickstarter site itself, people who looked for games or just clicked on the new projects link.

What can you conclude from this? Well, there is the obvious fact that the more people actually know you, the more likely they are to pledge. If you’re in my address book, we are probably friends or colleagues. Also, at my age, my friends and colleagues are likely to have a job, their kids are grown and they have extra money to pledge. (More about that in my Logan’s Run post later!)

Does that mean social media is useless? Yes and no. It means that your odds of getting funded just using social media probably aren’t  that good unless you have a whole lot of friends and followers. Certainly having someone in my corner with 173,000 followers was helpful – as many of them pledged as my friends did – so twitter followers were far less likely to pledge percentage-wise, but there were far more of them.

I do think that social media effects may be over-estimated. When I said I was doing this Kickstarter campaign some of my younger relatives were sure it would be over in a day, they said,

” Just have Ronda tweet it out once, she has over 170,000 followers. If every one of them gives $1 you’ll have made it several times over in a day.”

Ah, the naivete of youth! Now, our campaign just started two days ago, and I know that not as many people read my blog on the weekends (I do keep stats on that). There is also the fact that people on the east coast are buried in snow and have far more to worry about than a Kickstarter campaign of mine.

On the other hand, Ronda has a title fight in two weeks and a TV show on her aired a couple of times this week, so, as far as random events, there has been plenty of random in both directions.

What to make of this? Well, after seeing the numbers, I ran Faker, an application I found on this interesting article on fake twitter followers of athletes. It between Ronda and I we have 72,000 active accounts following us, not fake and actively tweeting. Still, only 10 of them pledged.

According to Blogher, only about half of the visitors to my blogs come to the site long enough for the ads to load, so some of those “visits” are spambots or just not very interested. That still  only brings the percent of pledges to .14% .

On seeing the numbers, I am coming  to think this way – you need both. And you need them over a period of time. I never did think one tweet was going to make our Kickstarter campaign. However, a couple of dozen tweets over a couple of dozen days, just might.





Let’s make a deal. Would you trade me 30 years of your life for this house in Malibu?


Say, you are 25 now, so, instead of living to 78, you’d live to be 48. Would you trade? If I threw in a really nice car, all the newest computers, iPhones, big-screen TVs and a new designer wardrobe every year, PLUS the house, would you trade me 35 years of your life for the whole package and agree to kick off at age 43?

If this sounds like a deal with the devil – I did meet the devil recently, but that’s not it. In fact, it’s the trade off that I believe most people make. I took the picture above sitting on a mountain looking down at that house. Several times a year, I go hiking in the Santa Monica mountains. I always look down or up at beautiful places like this and exactly ONCE have I seen anyone outside. While I’m enjoying the view, they’re in an office downtown.

Maybe they love their job and that’s exactly what they want to do. In that case, good for them. However, a great many people I meet start out trading their life for stuff at a very young age. I walked, biked, hitch-hiked or took the bus to class, to work and to judo tournaments.  I didn’t buy my first car until I was 23 years old, by which time I had a BSBA, MBA, two national titles and two US Open gold medals.

Many people I met had quit competing, dropped out of college or were still in community college. Most of them had bought a car at 16 or 18 years old, and their parents to “teach them responsibility”, had insisted they at least pay the insurance and buy their own gas. Some of them wanted a really nice car and also made the car payment.  Once they moved out and got their own apartment, that cost plus the car made it really necessary for them to work. At some point, they ended up dropping classes or missing practice because they had to work.

I also had to work while I was in high school and college, but because I did not have those extra expenses, when I needed to study more or train for a tournament, I could quit my job and live on savings for a while. That also meant I sometimes attended classes wearing clothes from Goodwill, surrounded by classmates in designer clothes. Yes there were mean girls in my school and a few of them made snide comments until I asked,

“How would you like to be punched in the face?”

Then the comments stopped. Wonder why they never try that in the after-school specials? I don’t know, maybe it is trading your life for being part of the “cool crowd”, i.e., the ones that would be produced if Abercrombie & Fitch made people.

All I know is that at almost every turn when The Rocket Scientist and I had a choice between stuff and something else, we chose the something else. Buy a big house or send darling daughters #1 and #2 to NYU and USC – pay for schools. Buy a big house or send darling daughter #3 around the world to train for the Olympics – Olympics.

The same is true for life – buy a new car every year and a lot of other stuff or put money in our 401k so we could quit what we were doing and work at making math games full time, at no pay, if necessary.

(Go support our Kickstarter campaign here, by the way. It’s awesome.)

You only get one life. What are you trading it for?

That, my dears, is#9 in the 55 things I’ve learned in (almost) 55 years.





Since it’s the international year of statistics, I felt a little guilty that I have not done that much in the way of statistics lately. However, I think that is true whether you are an engineer, statistician, biologist or whatever, within a few years after your Ph.D. (at most!) you find lots of your time not being in the area you expected. Let’s look at this week, starting today

7 Generations Game LogoThursday: Kickstarter campaign kicked off. We have been working for a year developing a computer game to teach kids math. (SERIOUSLY CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO HERE & PLEDGE, IT’S AWESOME!) There are statistics in the fifth game in the series – teaching distribution and variability. There was a lot of statistics involved in analyzing the data to back it up – computing item difficulty statistics, internal consistency reliability for the measures, repeated measures ANOVA to test whether the students who played the game progressed in math faster than those who didn’t. (Short answer: Yes.)

However, the biggest part of my day today was spent on Facebook, twitter and phone calls about the Kickstarter campaign, setting up filming for a commercial to be aired next week that a wonderful sponsor offered to do for free.

Wednesday: We’re submitting a grant proposal to USDA to create a series of video games. It will involve a good bit of text mining and data mining to create propensity scores to identify the best match of instructional videos, web pages or games for students based on their mathematics achievement level and characteristics of the instructional resources. Before we get to the statistics, though, there is a lot of writing – literature review, how it relates to Joe Bob Briggs (2011) study of similar stuff, logic models, etc. etc. Wrote blog post on documentation.

Tuesday: Grant-writing. Wishing I was doing mixed model analysis of some interesting data. Grant-writing. Wishing I was doing PHP program for client. Grant-writing. Wishing I was doing text-mining. Wrote blog post on idiots who annoy me. Internet said that was Wednesday but since I hadn’t gone to bed yet, it was Tuesday to me.

Monday: See Tuesday.

Sunday: 7 hours of video editing using Garageband and iMovie with the assistance from a wonderful video editor the folks from the American Horror channel on FilmOn  sent out as part of their service to the community. (Thank you guys!) As much as the help was greatly appreciated I must say that anyone who does film editing for a living must put the hyphen in anal-retentive. By  the end, I wanted to shoot myself. Then, I did more grantwriting.

Saturday: Heard darling daughter #3 downstairs talking to The Spoiled One. Came down wearing nothing but The Rocket Scientist’s shirt to be met by a photographer from a national magazine who asked,

“Do you mind if I take your picture?”

I replied,

“I’m not wearing pants, but, whatever.”

Random fact: Darling daughter #3 has a world title fight in the UFC coming up this month so photographers, film crews and journalists have been all over our house like white on rice.

Second random fact: I also had a book published this week, Winning on the Ground – which is about matwork in judo and martial arts.

So, where the hell is the statistics in here? Well, sadly, not nearly in as many places as I would like. In the grant research design sections, there are lots of statistics mentioned. Come February 28th when the Kickstarter campaign is over and the grant proposals are done, I can get back to doing statistics 50% or more of the time. My points though, are;

1. A good bit of being a statistician at the senior level is writing – writing research papers, writing reports, writing proposals.

2. Another good bit of being a statistician is working collaboratively, whether it is with video editors, like this week, or other researchers writing proposals, like last week.

3. You are NOT too old to do a start-up and anyone who thinks you are washed up by 30 can kiss my ass. If you agree, please go to our Kickstarter site and pledge.

Now, I have to get off the computer and go watch this program on TV on darling daughter #3.






We’re waiting by the phone, um, computer  to find that our Kickstarter project is (we hope!) approved. In the meantime, our Chief Marketing Officer asked me why there was a need for documentation, which is one of the expenses that would be funded from the crowd.

It’s like this – we started writing a game and we had certain deadlines to meet. We’d promised to have a playable game in the school by October. And we did. And the kids really liked it. And their math skills improved.

In the process, though, we did everything that had to get done to meet those deadlines and other things had to be put off until later.

Version control – later. User’s manual – later. FAQ – later. Anything that wasn’t promised was put on a backburner while we kept our promises.

And now …. we have code written in C#, PHP and JavaScript. There are SAS programs that were used to analyze the data. All of it was written by three people, 90% of it by just two of us. We have files in folders all over the place, on our server, on our desktops, on laptops. I know that one has the sound files, one has artwork used in the main 3-D game and some others have mini-games that are sort of side quests – but it’s not written down anywhere. We have a MySQL database and I know where it is, why we have it and what is in which table – but it’s not written down anywhere.

We have scripts that validate the answers students give to each question and then route them to the appropriate place – either back to play the game or to a site to study whatever math concept they missed. I know what those scripts are named and what they do – but it’s not written down anywhere. The Rocket Scientist has written a lot of C# code for the 3-D world and I know where the latest version is – but it’s not written down anywhere. I also do NOT know where the previous version is (although I could probably guess, or I could go upstairs and ask him).


My point is that we can’t go past the current level of complexity without documenting everything we have done up to this point or we are going to be royally screwed because:

  1. The further in time we get from when we wrote the first few game levels, the more likely we are to FORGET where stuff is and have one hell of a time fixing any bugs that come up because we won’t be sure what exactly File X does or where the script that does Y is saved.
  2. As we write new levels, we probably want to re-use code that does certain things like making the character do a little dance to pow-wow music, but we won’t quite remember why we wrote that bit in the middle, so, best leave it in – this is how one ends up with spaghetti code that is impossible to really maintain as no one knows exactly what it does.
  3. We are getting to the point of scaling up. This means bringing on another programmer or two. That future person is going to need to know where stuff is and what it does.

The truth is that we need to stop and write stuff down before we go any further. It’s kind of like when you are in college and you forego cleaning your apartment because you have to work and study for finals. Well, after finals are over, there is a point where you need to buckle down and clean your place before the fungus on the dishes in the sink evolves, forms its own government and evicts you.


What will anyone who donates to our eventual (we hope!) Kickstarter project get out of this? In front-end visible terms, they will get an on-line, downloadable user’s manual in pdf and html that explains how to play the game, all the levels, has an index to find answers to questions. We think you could probably figure everything out from playing the game, but some people like to read, and lots of people get stuck some times. We’ll have a Frequently Asked Questions page up on our site, and answers (since just the questions aren’t too helpful), for those people like me who don’t want to read a whole manual but just want an answer.

We’ll have a technical support wiki that you won’t see directly but which will help you indirectly because if you do run into a question not covered on our FAQ or a bug that needs to be fixed, one of us will be able to answer it a whole lot faster and better than, “Your guess is as good as mine” or, the one that always drives me crazy, “Well, it works on my machine.”

The other way documentation will help our supporters is that we really won’t be able to progress much farther nearly as fast without it – again, think about your post-finals trashed apartment. Eventually you realize that you are spending more time looking for your keys and cell phone than it would take to clean the place up.

So…. that is why we need funding for documentation.




Some days, the world seems to be divided into two groups; idiots who annoy me and people I haven’t yet met.

The largest group of idiots who annoy me are those that tell me how much they want to help small business. This includes most government agencies at all levels and just about every non-profit or commercial group set up to “help” small business.

Dear God,
Please send me people who want to contract for our services , who want to invest in our company and who want to buy our products and not people who want to help me.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request,





Before you decide you want to start a business, be sure you understand the difference between:

  1. Doing whatever you want.
  2. Owning a business.
  3. Not having anyone tell you what to do.

Here is what I wanted to do in the past month:

Here is what I actually did in the last month

Now, I’m not complaining (much). The proposals, if funded, will allow me to do a whole lot of coding and data analysis over the next two years. I cannot think of a single person I worked with in the last month who was not both really good at their job and genuinely nice – which certainly makes for a hell of a good month. My point is that many days – and sometimes an entire month – can go by without me doing very much of what  I really want to do and the reason I started our product line of 7 Generation Games.

Lately, I cross paths with people in the entertainment industry on a regular basis. No one goes into film making because they want to raise money, but that is what they end up doing because it costs a lot to pay for the actors, equipment, facilities, travel and on and on. Creating a computer game is like that – it costs money for animation, tech writers, marketing staff and on and on. So even though I started this business because I wanted to design and write really cool games to teach kids math, for the first two months of the year, my time has been devoted 90% to raising money.

Yes, there is a certain amount of not being told what to do – I get up at 10 or 11 in the morning, work until 3 a.m. and usually have my lunch break around 10:30 pm. Not many businesses would be cool with that. I share an office with two guinea pigs and a frog. I average driving during rush hour once a week, compared to most people’s twice a day. I’m doing research and development to help children learn math, to help people with disabilities get jobs, and NOT to convince people to take out sub-prime mortgages or sign up for credit cards at loan-shark interest rates.

On the other hand, I just finished a proposal that required the technical abstract be no more than 200 words (I came in at 197), the commercial abstract no more than 100 words (I wrote 99), the project narrative no more than 15 pages, budget narrative no more than one page. The budget had to use the provided template and the entire document had to be in 12-point font, with 1 inch margins all the way around, delivered no later than 2pm EST on February 5. If that isn’t having someone else tell you what to do, I don’t know what is.

All of that being said, while I sit here waiting for our Kickstarter campaign to go live, I wouldn’t change places with anybody in the world.



Help a Sister Out!

February 4, 2013 | Leave a Comment

If you know of any African-American women executives (or are such a person yourself), please read on … Shanetta was a student in my Advanced Quantitative Data Analysis class last year and is certain to be someone you’ll hear about in the years ahead. Help her out now and you can honestly claim to have known her way back when. She is looking for subjects for her doctoral dissertation research. Read below… Thanks!



Good Afternoon Colleagues & Friends:

I hope 2013 is going well for you so far!

I am a Doctoral candidate of Organizational Leadership in Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology in the dissertation phase of the program. My dissertation focus is on African American female leadership, success strategies and resilience. The title of the research is African American Female Leaders: Resilience and Success.

I will be seeking female leaders who identify as black and who hold high ranking positions (e.g. c-suite executives) in traditionally male dominated industries or businesses to participate in a study. The goal of this research is twofold:

· First, to provide a guide for women who aspire toward entering particular fields and holding similar leadership roles.
· Secondly, to provide an outline of the success, advancement and resilience of African American women in order to develop a blueprint for organizational and human resource development strategies that promotes diversity and advancement for female leaders.

The interviews will not take place until early or mid-February 2013, pending approval from the department. However, I was hoping to engender your interest and support. Specifically, if you are interested in participating or know someone who could participate, let me know by responding to this email or calling me directly.

It is important to note that, participation is voluntary and offers no compensation. However, participation in this study will be extremely valuable to new and aspiring women executives as well as other scholars and practitioners in the fields of leadership, business, human resources and other social science fields.

If you are interested in participating or believe you know someone who could participate, please contact me. I look forward to discussing the study further.

Thank You,

Shanetta Robinson-MPA
Doctoral candidate of Organizational Leadership
Graduate School of Education & Psychology
Pepperdine University

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