Sunday, October 28, 2018

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Joe Friday never said it. If you are old enough to remember the TV show "Dragnet" then you know the catchphrase "Just the Facts, Ma'am"

But he never said it. Not on the show. A PARODY of the show first used the phrase. But not Joe Friday.

I learned of this fact, because I Google the word "facts" and "Just the Facts, Ma'am" was the number one hit. 

[No, it was not really the number one hit on Google. But you won't check it out for yourself, so who cares, right?]

My search took me to the website, which covered the topic. Is it not amazing that a website like Snopes even exists? 

We read things on the Internet, on social media, and then after liking the posts and sharing the posts and re-tweeting the posts, we find out that the post was false. Or less than factual. But it is too late. Truth and facts lose out to speed and volume. 

I was about to say "A lie can travel around the world before the truth can put on it's shoes" ~ Mark Twain. But it looks like it was Winston Churchill who said it, and it was pants, not shoes. is a cool website founded by former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer. It is all about the facts. The truth. It is a very useful website (especially at election time). You should check it out.

But I have no idea if Steve Ballmer is actually even connected with, or has anything to do with the website. Truth. Facts. What does that even mean any more, when lies travel at the speed of light?

We always say that we want the truth. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But can we handle the truth?

Last one:  What percentage of people vote?

Google says about 60% of the eligible voting population votes during presidential election years, and about 40% votes during midterm elections. 

Is that true? Is that a fact? How do we fact check the fact checkers?

When we VOTE on November 6th shall we vote with our hearts or with our heads? 

Where is Detective Joe Friday when we need him.....

Two packs a day? EVERY DAY???

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Is Reading Still Fundamental?

Who remembers growing up with the commercials for  I remember how "reading" and reading comprehension scores were a major part of our education. But is reading still such a big deal?

My friends Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (aka DHH) of Basecamp fame have blessed us with a new book. Just go buy it. Seriously, buy it, read it, and then live it. 

But this blog post is not so much about their new book. It is about reading, in general. 

I was born in 1960. Growing up, we had......books in school. And film strips. And movies. Who remembers watching MOVIES in grade school? It was such a big deal. Secretly, I think it was a mental health break for our teachers when they could run a movie or film strip, and keep us crazy kids occupied for a few minutes. 

I bought Jason and David's new book on Amazon, as an eBook. And I opted for the audio version as well. It took me around 2 hours to read the book on my Kindle. But having the audio version allows me to "re-read" the book while driving.

And then it hit me. We now live in the world of podcasts, and YouTube, and multimedia, trans-media, TBLS (Technology Based Learning Systems). 

Penmanship is no longer taught in school. But experts claim that it should be. 

When you BUY a book, you proactively take the steps necessary to purchase, read, and process the contents of a book. You are PULLING the information into your brain. You set the pace. You decide when to start, stop and restart reading. YOU are in control of the flow. You can pause and re-read a section. You can highlight sections. And, you can buy books that resonate with you, and give them to friends, colleagues and staff. 

So, here is what I think. I think we need to read more. All of us. We need to PULL more information into our brains, rather than having information PUSHED at us. If we read more, there would be less "fake news" and there would be less confusion, and less chaos in the world. 

So that's it. had it right all along. We all need to read more books. And if you are in business (of any size) start with THIS one members: email me the receipt from your book purchase 
and you will receive a matching credit on your NYDLA account. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

An Apple A Day

This weekend was a family triple birthday celebration, combined with the annual "Apple Picking" extravaganza. 

And it was full of Apple puns.

You are the apple of my eye. How do you like them apples? The apple does not fall far from the tree. In the end, we all apple-ologized for the lame apple jokes. 

But "An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away" stayed with me all weekend.

The first podcast interview of my career was with Milton Chen, CEO of 

VSee was founded in 2008 by two Stanford PhD students who wanted to make remote work simple. The original VSee platform was coded by Milton who did his PhD research on the psychology of video communications.  Milton has deployed VSee for former President Obama’s Inauguration, for the Navy Seals, for Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie in their refugee work. Milton has also personally traveled to Iraq twice, Syria twice, as well as Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America on numerous humanitarian and medical missions trips.

VSee  is much more than a telemedicine platform. VSee are people who believe in the power of telemedicine to save money, to save lives, and improve healthcare. Their team mission is to make telehealth an everyday experience. Today, VSee serves over 1000 companies including Walgreens, MDLIVE, Trinity, DaVita, HCA, Seton, McKesson-US Oncology, and others. 
And, VSee is the official telemedicine platform of NASA and is the only telemedicine platform on the International Space Station. 
This month representatives of the shall attend VSee's Telehealth national conference in San Diego. 

Over the years, I have watched VSee grow into a global band of designers and engineers passionate about using knowledge, technology and talent to do good. They strive to overcome the barriers preventing telehealth from being an everyday experience, for everyone on the planet. 
What if telemedicine became as accepted as apple picking? What if the adoption and utilization of telemedicine technology like VSee became as easy to use as picking apples? 
The old pun "An apple a day will keep the doctor away" has been replaced by technology. Today, you can find a doctor INSIDE of an Apple. Or inside of an Android smartphone, tablet or PC. 
Telemedicine is indeed the future of healthcare. Saving lives on a global basis (through technology) is as American as Apple Pie. 
Healthcare for all is my core belief, and I hope you found today's blog a-peel-ing. Hmmm... I think my next blog will be about STEM

Let's make global healthcare for all as easy as Picking Apples.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Breaking the law, faster

Who remembers Fuzzbusters? Or the Escort, or Passport (or Fox or Whistler or....) Radar Detectors?

I was born in 1960. So I got my driver's license right around the time that driving 55 mph was "the law of the land" and that was that.

Growing up, I was young and foolish. And I was spoiled. I had the "Smokey and the Bandit" Trans Am as a teenager, and in my early twenties, I had a two-seater Trans Am convertible. I had a "little red Corvette" convertible at 28. I did buy the Corvette myself (self-spoiling).

And so, I owned and used Radar Detectors. Lots of them. I won't even mention my CB radio, Good Buddy. I used to joke that I would get pulled over for speeding while I was still putting on my seat belt. I easily justified the purchase and use of Radar Detectors because I drove sports cars. It was my way of making it a fair fight. Red Corvette = pull me over, please.

Did I speed? Yeah. But nothing crazy. 65 or 70 in a 55 was usually my top end limit. Or doing 80 in a 65, maybe when cruising back and forth on Rt. 80 from New Jersey to PURDUE. But that was not really breaking the law, right? I rarely did 85, 90. And I NEVER, ever pushed it to....100 (on an open highway, with no traffic in sight for MILES). I think.

I've been pulled over at least 20 times in my life for speeding, and I only received two speeding tickets. Everything else was a warning. 18 wins, 2 losses. Not a bad track record.

But here is what I learned about myself. I no longer speed. I lost the need to speed. I no longer own a Radar Detector, and I have not owned a Radar Detector in years. Ever since my kids were born, I now drive in the middle lane, I set my cruise control, and I'm good. 70 in a 65 is my new normal. Driving 80 (or faster) is a distant memory.

Where is this going, Tom?

A younger version of myself used to PAY good money to break the law. I used to purchase and use DEVICES that allowed me to break the law, better. I went out of my way, to break the law. I decided that breaking the speed limit was indeed breaking the law - but - it was a special kind of law. Everyone else does it. Kinda like a "fake" law, not really something that needs to be taken seriously by everyone.

Drunk driving can kill you and innocent people. Texting while driving is just as bad. Speed limits are designed to make driving safer (for all of us). The posted speed limit is not some random number. Some engineer figured out that THIS road, under THESE conditions, can be safely negotiated at THIS posted speed. THIS speed, and no faster.

Speeding kills. Distracted driving kills. Google "How many Radar Detectors were sold last year" and the number is still in the millions.

Now Radar Detectors come with "crowd sourcing" built-in so they have the old "CB Radio" feature. "Hey Good Buddy, Kojak with a Kodak at mile marker 119".

If you are a millennial, go Google Kojak and CB Radio.

As more and more self-driving (autonomous) cars and trucks hit the roads, speeding tickets (and one day, parking tickets) will continue to decline. Maybe never to zero, but the tickets (and the revenue from the tickets) will dramatically go down. Be sure to look at "the math" below.

I used to mindfully, purposefully, willfully break the law. I would spend good money to break the law more efficiently. Today, not so much. Now at 58, give me a good podcast on the car stereo and you will find me in the middle lane, with the cruise control set to 69 in a 65.

OK, maybe I'll set the cruise control to 71. Or set to 72. 73, tops.

I mean after all, who drives 65 in a 65? 

Driving Citation Statistics (2017)
Average number of people per day that receive a speeding ticket - 112,000
Total annual number of people who receive speeding tickets - 41,000,000
Total percentage of drivers that will get a speeding ticket this year - 20.6 %
Average cost of a speeding ticket (including fees) - $152
Total paid in speeding tickets per year - $6,232,000,000
Average annual speeding ticket revenue per U.S. police officer - $300,000
Percent speeding tickets that get contested in traffic court - 5 %
Total number of licensed drivers in America today - 196,000,000

I can't drive 55

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Variably Important Person

I just got the VIP treatment.

I was picked up at my home in a limousine, wined and dined for two days, and taken back home. Wow, I must be really special! [My wife says: not so much].

The Mohegan Sun properties, especially in Connecticut and in Atlantic City are indeed AMAZING. But to influence large groups of people to come to their resorts, to come to their hotels and casinos - they need for the "decision makers" to come for a visit. They need to get the VIPs to come on down and check it all out.

A "FAM" visit or familiarization tour is common in the travel business. FAM tours are very important in the travel and in the hospitality industry because if a person of influence, if the "decision makers" like your property and your amenities - it could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of (new) business.

And, if the decision makers LOVE your property and your amenities, it can turn into millions of dollars of repeat, ongoing business.

OK, so done deal! Effective immediately, all members of the now get special, value-added member only pricing at all Mohegan Sun properties! [ They had me at limousine..... ]

But this was not really what sealed the deal for me. It was not the amazing food, the state-of-the-art meeting rooms and conference center. It was not the limousine.

It was - the buses.

During my stay in Atlantic City, I watched the buses arrive. Dozens of buses. From New York City. From Philadelphia. From two to three hours away. People coming in to experience the Casino, and the boardwalk. In many cases, just for the day. In some cases, just for six hours.

These people arriving by bus were treated like VIPs! They were greeted as they arrived, with an entourage. They were welcomed to the property like millionaires, every one of them. It was obvious that many of the people arriving by bus were not "high rollers" but many were indeed rollers! [Many had walkers, and motorized scooters]. And each and every one of them, were greeted and welcomed to the property like they were "whales".

There are 55+ million people living, working and playing in the "New York Megalopolis".

Via the NYDLA, we effect, sway and impact many people of influence. 300+ of the Fortune 1000. The colleges, universities and corporations living, learning, working and playing in the northeast are going to have meetings and events somewhere. Why not host your meetings and events at a Mohegan Sun property? And why not do so with special NYDLA member only - VIP pricing?

So, I am considered to be a VIP by Mohegan Sun. Cool. But I am a Variably Important Person. 

If I left my position with the NYDLA tomorrow, my influence would then become minimal. My ability to direct and channel new business to anyone (or anything) would be dramatically reduced. I am not a big deal (personally). The NYDLA is the big deal, not me.

Every single person arriving by bus was treated like a TRUE VIP. They arrived with a smile, and they left with an even bigger smile. Winners or losers in the casino, all had a wonderful moment in the sun. And they will be back. They will return (by bus) and they will tell their friends. Like me, every single person who arrived by bus is now a "brand ambassador" for Mohegan Sun.

My VIP status is variable. Ah, but the people who arrive by bus every day - their VIP status is for life.

During my tour of the property, the video below was played on the big screen. Yes, I was wined and dined and treated like Frank Sinatra for two days. But it was the fact that Mohegan Sun LIVES the story of Johnny the Bagger that really impressed me. They treat EVERYONE like VIPs.

Yep, Johnny sealed the deal.

Customer Service: Expert Level

Sunday, August 5, 2018

$400 or your (Online) Life!

Do you remember the story (and then the Tom Hanks movie) about Captain Phillips? I remember when I first heard about "Pirates" I thought it was a joke.  Pirates? Like men on tiny boats attacking other people on massive ships? I said to myself, this cannot be true.

Michael Scott Moore spent 977 days held hostage for ransom as the result of pirates. The book covers the true root cause of the modern pirate problem. If there were more decent paying jobs for kids in Somalia, there would be fewer pirates.

It is connected to money, as most things in life usually are. I myself, will not be visiting the Somalia coastline anytime soon. And I do not anticipate that many of the people reading my blog will also not be anywhere near Somalia in the near future.

But many of us are "live" on Facebook. 
And that might be just as dangerous.

Cyber Crime is a plague on any size business. Ransomware. Identify Theft. Only a few years ago, it was only a problem for large corporations, targets of extortion. Pay a ransom, or say good-bye to your data.  Pay a ransom, or you are locked out of your account. Pay a ransom or your entire client and customer file will be compromised.

I am somewhat knowledgeable in the area of Cyber Security. Which makes me a little embarrassed.
Keep reading to see why.

Just this past month the hosted a "Cyber Security Summit" in New York City in partnership with Wells Fargo.

We had 1,206 "CISO" from very large corporations respond to our VIP invitation. Yes, Cyber Security is a big deal in today's world. A chief information security officer (CISO) is the senior-level executive within an organization responsible for establishing and maintaining the enterprise vision, strategy, and program to ensure information assets and technologies are protected.

This past week, my personal and business Facebook accounts were attacked. 

But it was not a sophisticated attack that a CISO would defend against. 

It was from an disgruntled employee from Asia who worked for us for a total of 11 days. They simply downloaded from Facebook all of our contacts (business and personal) data and held us ransom. 

I wonder how many of the 800 million Facebook users realize how exposed they are to such a Cyber Crime?

Pay us $400 or we shall take down your accounts.  Pay us $400 or we shall publish disparaging information. Pay us $400 or we shall destroy your reputation and your business. $400? I am insulted!

I mean, it's not Somali Pirate ransom money, but only $400? Come on! I think I need to teach this Filipino Cyber Criminal how to negotiate a ransom. 

But I do understand the low amount. If it is only a few hundred bucks, people might pay the ransom to just put it behind them and move on. 

Well first of all - it pays to have friends at and to also have deep relationships with the top Cyber Security vendors. I am in "the Cyber Security business" so I am a little embarrassed by all of this. It will be interesting to see how this escalates and how long it takes to have this knucklehead and his "gang" arrested. 

If such a ransom attack ever happens to you, your first step is to open a CASE at your local Police Department.  

From there, it will quickly escalate to the Cyber Crime unit at and also the Cyber Crime units at Facebook. Many countries (like the Philippines) take Cyber Crime very seriously. They realize that their Gross National Income (GNI) relies on their Internet Security reputation. 

So, this blog post is now less about ex-staffer Filipino Cyber Criminal Hackers, as it is really about Facebook itself. 

800,000,000 x 1% = 8,000,000 bad actors. Even if you cut that number in half many times, that is still a lot of Pirates! 

My friends are just not that into Facebook anymore. Maybe it was the way Facebook tried tracking us across the web. Or how it got busted for sharing our private information with advertisers. Or how Facebook used their platform applied rules that wound up favoring hate speech by conservative white men over political speech by leftists and people of color. Or how Facebook gave people a free, easy-to-use tool to broadcast anything, including gun violence and sexual assault. Or how it researched our emotions without our consent. Or how it enabled Russia to wage a successful propaganda campaign against the United States. 

I will probably not completely get rid of my personal and business Facebook accounts. 

I do use Facebook from time to time make a post, or to do research. Many of our vendors and sponsors have Facebook business pages. 

But in today's world, using Facebook has become more and more like sailing around the Horn of Africa. It's just not safe. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A cake to die for

A few years ago, my wife Dianne was sent a cake in the mail. 

It was a "thank you" from a very thoughtful friend. I wondered how good the cake could possibly be.

It was freaking' amazing.

So I started doing some research, and found that Caroline's Cakes is one of Oprah's favorite things. And Caroline's Cakes is pretty famous for.....their cakes.

Well, I pursued them, hoping to make them into a customer. I would love to host their eCommerce store, or provide them with their merchant account. I wanted to help them to "tell the world" about their magical cakes! 

Many emails and phone calls later, I got to know the "Caroline's Cakes" family.

Today I received an email from Caroline's son:

Like Caroline, I am grateful for all of our wonderful customers. On July 15th of last year Caroline passed away after her courageous battle with ovarian cancer. The outpouring of support from friends, family, those who knew Caroline, and those who had never met her but knew her cakes has been absolutely amazing. 

Many thanks to all of you for helping all of us at Caroline's Cakes through this past year and especially as we move into the year ahead. 

I am grateful to have had Caroline as a mother, and lucky to also have had her as a boss, leader, and visionary for this wonderful company and for the cake community that she created with all of you. I still rely on her daily for inspiration and guidance and I work to fulfill not just her dream, but mine as well.

September is ovarian cancer awareness month and Caroline's Cakes will be donating a percentage of all Caramel Cake sales during that month to support ovarian cancer research. We will have custom tins made with our logo in teal, which is representative of ovarian cancer awareness. Giving back was always an important part of how Caroline lived her life and ran her business and we hope to have a positive impact on the research to beat this terrible disease.  
Thank you all again for being a shining example of kindness in the world, and remember, as Caroline always said: "Eat cake, and be happy!"


Richard's email above made me pause. 

When your name is on the building - when you are the brand - you are automatically building a legacy. 

Caroline did not sell cakes. She connected with and nurtured the people with whom she came in contact. She was incredibly generous, both professionally and personally.
She made friends with bus boys and maids and big stars in Hollywood and all in between. It has been said that Caroline’s Cakes were so unique and delicious that they could be the secret to world peace.
She founded her bakery business in 1982, specializing in the hard-to-create Southern delicacy, the seven-layer caramel cake. Through her energetic entrepreneurship Caroline’s signature caramel cake was featured in the hit movie The Help.
Caroline was always thinking of how to make things better in her business and in the lives of others. She loved to work and did so all hours of the day and night no matter where she was. Her sharp business acumen had a laser focus and her bubbling creativity resulted in her invention of new processes and equipment to improve her business.
In business, when "you are the brand" you will live forever. You are building a legacy. A culture. A standard of excellence.

Walt Disney passed many years ago, but his legacy will last forever.

I think we shall be saying the same about Caroline Ragsdale Reutter.

“My goal is to continue to 'make the world a smaller place' with the Caramel Cake and my other Southern specialties. I am so grateful for all of my customers and their generous and ongoing support.” ~ Caroline Ragsdale