Sunday, August 2, 2020

Get me Dick Fosbury!

[ If you are on a smartphone, view in landscape, hold sideways ]

The Fosbury Flop is a style used in the event of high jump. It was popularized and perfected by American athlete Dick Fosbury, whose gold medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City brought it to the world's attention.

The genius of the Fosbury Flop is that it allows the athlete to bend his or her back around the bar at the peak, causing the athletes body to clear the bar while his or her center of mass actually travels below the bar. 

Fosbury developed "the Flop" at the age of 16 after finding the standard techniques difficult. 

So, a few things:

Timing. Given that landing surfaces had previously been sandpits or low piles of matting, high jumpers of earlier years had to land on their feet to prevent injury. With the advent of deep foam matting, high jumpers were able to move to be more adventurous in their landing styles, and hence experiment with new styles of jumping. 

So, Dick Fosbury came along at a time in history where "the Flop" would not mean you would break your neck during (the less than forgiving) landing. 

On the world stage, Fosbury jumped, shockingly at the time, with his back to the bar. His head and shoulders cleared the high jump bar first, his legs and feet trailed. On October 20, 1968, 21 year old Dick Fosbury wins GOLD - and sets an Olympic record with "a Flop" that changed the sport - forever. 

The way that every serious high jumper does it now - they Flop. "I think quite a few kids will begin trying it my way now," he said when the Olympic Games were over. Within a decade, almost every elite high-jumper was doing it Fosbury's way. Since 1980, no one using any other technique has held the world record.

In sports, when you know better, you do better.

Especially in the global Olympics games. Every country, from all around the world, in competition. In 1968, the world was a witness to "the better way" to do the high jump. And you did not have to tell the world twice. 

Today, we are fighting a global pandemic. COVID-19 is ravaging the world. But the pandemic is especially rampant in the United States. As of today's numbers there are more cases of COVID-19 in the State of Florida, than in the entire European Union with 440M+ people. Let that sink in. 

Florida has more new cases of COVID-19 than the ENTIRE European Union. 

There is a "Dick Fosbury" of COVID-19. There are countries (right now, today) that are doing better than the United States in fighting COVID-19. WAY BETTER. The pandemic numbers don't lie. Today, the USA is not, not NOT the Dick Fosbury of pandemic management and mitigation. If fighting a pandemic was an Olympic Game, I don't even think the USA would get an honorable mention. 

The thing that I cannot understand, is why we (as a nation) don't copy, adapt or put into play the obvious better way to fight the pandemic. Other countries are "crushing it" in combating COVID-19. I mean, we are not talking about trying to win a GOLD MEDAL, we are talking about trying to save lives. 

America, where is our Dick Fosbury of COVID-19? 

[ Hint: they might be living in Europe, start there ]

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Overture, Curtain, Lights

[ If you are on a smartphone, view in landscape, hold sideways ]

Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, the night of nights
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart
Overture, curtain, lights
This is it, we'll hit the heights
And oh what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it

Tonight what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it

If you were born in the 60's like me, this was your battle cry. This was the theme song to your life. I remember Saturday Morning Cartoons with Bugs Bunny and the gang like it was yesterday. Saturday morning cartoons were the highlight of the week for every kid in America. This was the original "must see TV". 

Last night (in my living room) at around 9:00 pm I had a little get together with some writers, actors and directors. Some were famous, some not so much. But via the power of Zoom (pandemic or no pandemic) we all spent around an hour chatting about movies, acting, comedy, anything that the audience could post in the Q&A box. Patton Oswalt was the most famous person on the panel, but the director's dog might have stolen the show. As they say in show business: never follow kids or animals. 

Earlier in the week, the NYDLA sponsored a Telehealth Summit - again in my living room. Two days of thought leaders, subject matter experts, and vendors from all around the world. Experts from the world of HealthTech, MedTech, and Telemedicine. It was an excellent event, virtual or otherwise.

The Telehealth Summit was a huge success. But what really struck me was the post-event entertainment. Normally after such a "live" event we would all gather at some venue, such as a bar or restaurant. Or there would be a happy hour or cocktail hour, where everyone would mingle and most likely exchange business cards. Well, since we could not all go to a piano bar - the piano bar came to us. To our homes. And thanks to things like DoorDash and other delivery services, we also had amazing food and adult beverages, as we all mingled and exchanged contact information in the Zoom "break out" (rooms) tables. Click and we're connected on LinkedIn. Click and we're connected on Twitter. I have to admit, these virtual events are growing on me. And with DoorDash powered virtual events, my waistline is also growing. 

Again, since I was born in the 60's I remember Zoom (the TV series). Zoom stylized as ZOOM was a half-hour educational television program, created almost entirely for children. It aired on PBS from January 1972 to around March 1978. Imagine if TODAY's ZOOM existed back then, where we could all Zoom with the original Zoomies. Imagine if kids were able to chat live, talk live, interact LIVE in real-time with the Zoom Kids. Wow, we would ALL be Zoom kids, right? Or what about this: Mister Rogers, live on Zoom, talking to the kids - live - right in their homes. That would have been cool. 

Yeah, the COVID-19 pandemic sucks. But I am amazed how every day there is a new way to use Zoom. Weddings, Meetings, Events, Book Signings, Book Clubs, Comedy Shows, Cooking Shows, Concerts, Class Reunions, Zoom Bingo. Every week I check in at to see what new and creative ways people are using Zoom. Here is what is nuts: even when people are using WebEx or GoToMeeting or other brands, they are called Zoom Schools or Zoom Events or the entire category is called "The Zoom Companies" by Wall Street analysts. 

Ah yes, it is really cool when your brand becomes a verb. 

In August, will be LIVE, with free templates to make Zoom Shows, Zoom Schools, Zoom Conventions, Zoom Concerts, Zoom.......anything....easy for anyone. Virtual events (of any size) will be supported by live "Zoomers" on-demand to help to produce, curate and guarantee the best possible experience for everyone in the room, from anywhere in the world. Zoom (the TV show) had an entire production crew, in a TV studio in downtown Boston. will have the same thing - live people - but everyone will be working from their homes. Ah yes, KNOWLEDGE + TECHNOLOGY + TALENT (where have I heard that before?).

Humans like to have a choice. We don't want to be forced to do anything, even when it is good for us. (See: wearing a mask in public). 

I live 25 miles west of Times Square, and I really (really) miss going into the city for meetings and events. I hope that we will soon be able to have choices once again - for schools, for medicine, for meetings, for events, for anything. Remember, even when we do go back to hosting live events, we probably won't be shaking hands again. And I'm not too sure about exchanging paper business cards, either. 

All of us, we all want to again have choices. "To Zoom, or not to Zoom, that is the question". Hat Tip to Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1. The main point of that speech remains the same: Hamlet tries to decide if living or dying is best. 

Hint: living is the best choice, always. Virtually or otherwise. 

Bugs Bunny Overture Theme

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Bring it home!

5.5M+ members of the were invited to attend the TELEHEALTH INNOVATION FORUM, July 21-22, 2020. From home.

Last week, we attended Workplace TRANSFORM which was LIVE at 5:00 AM EST because it was broadcast live from London. Anyone who did not attend the event live can watch the 90 minute archive on demand via

Last month we had 32,000+ attend COLLISION FROM HOME. We expect 100,000+ to attend Web Summit in December. From home. 

All of this movement "to the cloud" was already happening last year. Heck, we have been making the pilgrimage to the cloud for years. But the pandemic forced years of movement to happen in a matter of months. 

BROADWAY in The Big Apple might never come back. How painful to say that word - never. There is nothing more powerful than a live performance on Broadway. I have my fingers crossed that some really smart people will figure out how to bring Times Square and Broadway (and Off Broadway) back to life. 

Just last night, I attended a virtual book signing for one of our comic friends, Mike Birbiglia. If you bought his new book, you were invited to his virtual book signing, on Zoom. It was cool. Normally, we would all meet up in NYC at one of the cool boutique bookstores. Sometimes the line would stretch around the block. Last night thousands attended the book signing. From all around the world. 

My own son will be having a "Zoom Wedding" this year. Check out for amazing stories of how the world is now 

We are all moving at light speed into the new world of virtual EVERYTHING. Virtual teaching, virtual training, virtual coaching. Telemedicine has become just MEDICINE. Distance Education has become just EDUCATION. Remote Work has become just WORK. Meetings, Events, Weddings, Parties, Book Signings, every day some "new thing" is being done via technology. 

There will be a day in the future (not tomorrow, but one day) where we shall be able to meet in groups, like we did last year. We might never shake hands again, but we shall be in the same room. 

For now, just sit back and continue to be amazed at how technology is changing our world forever. 

Oh but do first. Then sit back.  

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Does this taste funny to you?

Two cannibals are eating a comedian. One of the cannibals looks up and asks the other:

"Does this taste funny to you?"

When I was growing up, my father would say to me (at least a few times a month) - out loud for all in the room to hear: "What are you a comedian?" Dad would ask me this so many times that I started to wonder if he was trying to give me career advice. 

Another one of his "go to" comments was: "NOBODY LIKES A SMART ASS".  

One time our family was having lunch at a diner and Dad saw this plate hanging on the wall. "How much for that plate!" The owner of the diner said it was not for sale. "Name your price!" says Dad. 

So $100 later, Dad has his smartass plate. And then, he hands it to ME, across the table, with a big grin. Mom and my sister knew what was coming.

I paused, and then said: "Wow. I almost bought this exact same plate for YOU. They are selling these plates nextdoor at the Five and Dime store for $10."

I think every comedian was once a smartass, but not every smartass can become a comedian. 

At least not a professional. 

We have been doing our "Coffee in the Clouds" podcasts for a few years now. Thanks to the power of Zoom we upgraded from audio only to video podcasts. Sure you can just listen to the audio file, but humans are visual creatures, and VIDEO killed the radio star, right?

I met Shaun Eli a few years ago when his comedy show was in BOONTON, NEW JERSEY! Boonton, around 25 miles west of Times Square. NYC COMEDY comes to Main Street BOONTON! I'm in. 

I went to the show, and then another, and then another. I have always been a fan of comedy, especially the "science" of comedy. Over the years I learned of The Second City WORKS, the corporate education and entertainment arm of the world-renowned Second City comedy theater. They would use the same methods pioneered on stage to drive individual growth and organizational improvement. They created engaging, fun virtual learning and on-demand digital content to help dispersed teams to stay connected, engaged, and performing at their best. Man, that "is" right? I felt the connection in my bones. 

SO: here comes COVID-19 and the global pandemic. The world gets flipped on its head in 2020. And, the world of COMEDY and COMEDY SHOWS becomes decimated. Amazing professional comics who would normally be doing sold out shows in NYC (and around the world) are now doing NO SHOWS AT ALL. 

None, Zip, Nada. 

AND: Probably because we had too much time on our hands, and after all these many years, we did a CoffeeInTheClouds - with COMEDIANS. At first I think we were just going to do a Zoom interview, talking about the pandemic, talking about show biz, and discussing how SOME people are using technology (ala Zoom Shows) and are trying to do SOMETHING while we are all on quarantine at home. 

One show lead to another, and another and then another...

And now we are doing Coffee in the Clouds - with ACTORS. And AUTHORS. And ATHLETES. And we are talking with so many thought leaders, subject matter experts and business leaders that have been deeply affected by the new world of COVID-19. runs on Zoom. We were selling, marketing, promoting all things "Zoom" before Zoom became a verb. Today, we are honored to help people to get back to work, whether it's hosting fitness classes, planning events, or any of the other imaginative ways people run their lives and work "in the clouds". Being separated from our teams, our family and our friends is never easy. But even in the most trying times, we are seeing new ways to come together. From dance parties to pitch meetings, happy hours to hair care, life's biggest moments are still happening. 

One of MY last happy life moments with Dad was yet again at the heels of another one of his: "What are you, a comedian?" bits:

ME: "Well Dad, I see you peed your pants again. Was that me, or do we have something else going on here?"

My mistake was being a smartass standing too close to his wheelchair when I delivered the punchline. Man, he still "packed a punch" in his old age. 

Ah, so THAT is where the term "punchline" comes from!

My best joke is "The Pig with the Wooden Leg" story. My jokes tend to be stories. 

Maybe I'll tell you about The Pig with the Wooden Leg one day over Zoom. But my days of working for free are OVER!  It's gonna cost you at least a dollar.  

After all, I AM a COMEDIAN

I'm old enough to remember the birth of MTV:
The Buggles - Video Killed the Radio Star

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Hamiltonian System

A Hamiltonian System is a dynamical system governed by Hamilton's equations. In physics, this dynamic system describes the evolution of a physical system such as a planetary system or an electron in an electromagnetic field.

Now you might ask: Why is Hamiltonian better than Lagrangian? 

Ah! Well, Lagrange Mechanics gives you nice unified equations of motion. Where Hamiltonian mechanics gives nice phase-space unified solutions for the equations of motion. And of course, also gives you the possibility to get an associated operator, and a coordinate-independent symplectic-geometrical interpretation. 

Wait, what?

What does ANY OF THIS have to do with HAMILTON? 

You know, the thing I just watched last night on Disney + from my living room?

While on vacation from performing in his hit Broadway show In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda read a copy of the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. After finishing just a few chapters, Miranda began to envision the life of Hamilton as "a musical" and he researched whether a stage musical of Hamilton's life had already been created. 

Miranda therefore began a project titled The Hamilton Mixtape

The rest as they say - pun intended - is history. 

Hamilton's off-Broadway engagement at The Public Theater was sold out, and when the musical opened on Broadway, it had a multimillion-dollar advance in ticket sales, reportedly taking in $30 million before its official opening. By September 2015, the show was sold out for most of its Broadway engagement. Hamilton set a Broadway box office record for the most money grossed in a single week in New York City in late November 2016, when it grossed $3.3 million for an eight-performance week - the first show to break $3 million in eight performances. 

On February 3, 2020 it was revealed that Walt Disney Studios had purchased the distribution rights for $75 million with an original theatrical release date on October 15, 2021. 

Miranda later announced on May 21, 2020 that in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the film industry and the performing arts, which shut down the Broadway, West End, and touring productions, the film was released early on Disney + on July 3, 2020 in time for Fourth of July weekend. 

Critics say "Hamilton" is a great musical. That kinda goes without saying at this point, but such a well-known property could have been met with a relative "shrug" in its filmed version. As of this blog, Hamilton on Disney + has received a perfect critic score of 100, and 100% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes.  

And BECAUSE of the recent hype of Hamilton, millions of people have signed up for BRAND NEW Disney + accounts for $6.99 a month or $69.99 for a year. 

[ Also: Never bet against The Mouse. ]

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story
There is a very good chance that by the time you read this blog, you have seen Hamilton on Disney + since we KNOW that you are on the Internet. And, more and more people will be talking about it on social media. I enjoyed Hamilton in my living room this holiday weekend. I run the where "DL" has morphed from Distance Learning to DIGITAL Learning to just DIGITAL LIVING

There is no better example of Digital Living than a Broadway Play in your living room. 

We all owe our deepest gratitude to Hamilton - to Sir William Rowan Hamilton. For it weren't for the Irish mathematician and his study of geometrical optics, classical mechanics, adaption of dynamic methods in optical systems, and his theories such as electromagnetism - NONE OF US would be enjoying "the other Hamilton" on Disney + as there would be no Disney + 

And there would be no such thing as the Internet, either. 
There would be no Disney + no Netflix, no Facebook, no Google. 
And most importantly: there would be no Sunday Blog from yours truly. 

Yep. As history shows us: Who Tells Your Story is important. 

But this is also true: it's not always who has the best story, it's who tells your story the best. 

I'm looking at you Disney +

Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805 - 1865)

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Company is Coming!!!

Nothing strikes fear in the hearts more than hearing a Mom shout out to the rest of the family: COMPANY IS COMING!!!

My stress level goes up just hearing those words. But what happens when “the company” coming to your home is - an actual COMPANY? 

This past week, members of attended the COLLISION conference - from their homes. 

We have always enjoyed attending LIVE events. Heck, we LOVE attending live events, especially in New York. Having the Javits Center in our "Big Apple" backyard is one of our superpowers at “NYED-LA” as the world would come to us. I used to joke that I could go to Javits Center in New York City EVERY DAY, as there was ALWAYS something cool going on. I live 25 miles west of Times Square, so I can "pop in" for an event or conference in the city anytime. Yes, I am spoiled. And when we say "The City" we all know we are talking about NEW YORK CITY. You know, the center of the known universe.

I really wanted to go to Toronto for COLLISION. We were all set and ready to go. I have attended and supported COLLISION (a Web Summit event) every year since 2016. We expected 30,000+ to meet up in Toronto. 

And then comes COVID-19. Times may be uncertain, but one thing remains true. People enjoy coming together. There is a power in people coming together. No matter the time zone, humans are social creatures. 

Web Summit is a company from Dublin, Ireland that holds events online and across the world - Web Summit, Collision and RISE.

Forbes: “The best technology conference on the planet.”
The Atlantic: “Where the future goes to be born.”
New York Times: “A grand conclave of the tech industry’s high priests.”

When I learned that COLLISION was going to NOT be cancelled - but was going to become a VIRTUAL event, I was actually very worried. Since March we have witnessed so many LIVE events try to salvage their investment by converting their LIVE event into a VIRTUAL event. Most were not very good at all.

Folks, I have been in the MEETINGS & EVENTS space for many (many) years. The MEETINGS & EVENTS game is hard. It’s difficult. It’s expensive. It’s complex. Running an event (of any size) is an art form. I have seen so many try to pull off a VIRTUAL event during the pandemic, and they failed. They tried to salvage their live event, and they should have just canceled. 

Yes, I was worried that COLLISION was going to get a black eye. Who do these guys think they are? Are they so full of themselves that they can pull off a VIRTUAL event where so many others cannot? Do they think they are smarter than everyone else? 

Turns out they are smarter than everyone else. 

634 speakers. 5 channels of programming. People from 140 countries. 32,000+ attendees - FROM HOME. And I was one of them. From. My. Home.

These numbers are shocking. This event, during a quarantine, was the best event that I have attended in years. I did not say best VIRTUAL event, I said the best EVENT. Period.

Paddy Cosgrave, the founder of COLLISION and its parent Web Summit rolled the dice and they won. Big time. The future of MEETINGS & EVENTS was coming for all us, sooner or later. But the pandemic forced their hand. When any of us go to an event live, we are looking to maximize meaningful connections. How can you replace features of LIVE events, like meeting booths or round-tables or break-out sessions with software? 

There were no virtual event technologies (to date) that could properly do the job. In record time, Paddy’s team created a platform to make VIRTUAL events as good as live. In my humble opinion, this was better than a live event. Panel Discussions. Fireside Chats. Break-outs. They had it all. I was impressed, and I'm a very tough critic.

There was a feature called “Mingle” that was like speed dating for business. Every three minutes I was matched up with people (from all around the world) who were hand-picked for me. Based on my profile, I had hundreds of people join me - in my home - to exchange contact information, and chat via HD video. It turns out that three minutes is just the right amount of time to make a new friend, and connect on LinkedIn and social media.

Were there some bugs? Sure. It is not easy to host a global virtual event on a new platform that you built from scratch in record time, during a pandemic. But once you got past the minor bugs, it was flat-out AMAZING. It turns out that Paddy and his team were actually building software to network virtually at their live events for many years. Like for ten years. 

No software, no matter how powerful will fully replace true face to face contact. But during a pandemic, the platform that I just witnessed is indeed the future of the meetings & events world. I cannot see ANY events (LIVE or VIRTUAL) not being a hybrid moving forward. The most expensive part of going to conferences is not just the cost of the ticket but the cost of travel, hotels, food, etc. Even after the world returns to normal (and what is normal?) VIRTUAL EVENTS are here to stay. 

In a tweet last week Paddy said that he is thinking of offering access to their online conference platform to 3rd parties who organize large, bespoke events. members, vendors and sponsors: are you listening? 

When I learned that COLLISION was going 100% VIRTUAL, I was skeptical. I was worried that Paddy was going to ruin his stellar reputation. I was worried that this was a bridge too far.

Thank God no one at COLLISION asked me for my opinion. 

“Fortune favors the bold, Fortune favors the brave, and Fortune favors the strong” are common translations of a Latin proverb. Courageous action is often rewarded. 

Maybe COLLISION should simply be called COURAGEOUS moving forward? Or how about a new nickname: Paddy “Courageous” Cosgrave? 

OK, I’ll stop now.

Besides, I need to get busy and follow up with a few hundred new friends who came to my home last week. Thanks to Paddy, we had…company. Yes, we had “company” to our home, during a pandemic. No masks required.

Company is Coming

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Highway to Heaven

Cal Darden was my first sale.

For those of you who know me, I was one of the first to sell "car phones" in the USA, when the NYNEX system went live in the 80's. Back in the day, making phone calls from the car was expensive. The phones themselves were expensive, but so was the cellular phone service. There was a monthly service fee, and calls were around $0.50 per minute. Ah, plus taxes and fees.

I think I had my first cellular phone in my car for around five hours, and I was looking for "excuses" to make phone calls from the car. Who could I call? I did make a few calls, to home, to friends. I was just itching to make some "real" phone calls from the car.  And there it was.....

I saw a sweet lady broken down on the side of the road. Busy highway (Rt. 80, Northwest New Jersey) there she was with her hood up and no one was stopping. I pulled up behind her car on the shoulder with my hot little sports car, top down.

Hello, looks like you can use some help.  "Can you take me to a telephone? I need to call my son. I've been here for so long, and no one will stop to help me."

Sure, hop in. OK, who would you like to call?

Oh my goodness! Is that a phone? You have a phone in your car? Oh, my, oh my...

She called her son, Cal, who lived in Budd Lake, New Jersey, just a little further west.

The first few minutes of the call (at around $0.50 per minute mind you) was Momma Darden trying to explain that she was in MY CAR, calling from MY CAR, parked behind HER CAR broken down on the highway. She said that no one was stopping to help her, but now "her Highway Angel" (Ala the TV show Highway to Heaven) showed up. My name was now officially Michael Landon. "Michael Landon saved me! I'm in Michael Landon's sports car" she said with a wink and a smile.

I stayed with Mrs. Darden until her son showed up in a pickup truck. Boy she was a chatterbox. Cal was doing yard work just minutes before, and he looked like it. The folks from AAA were on the way to tow her car, and he would now drive his Mom back to his home which was just a few miles away.

I did not even have business cards yet. But Cal had a business card. He said "Call me on Monday." Cal worked for UPS.

In 1971, Cal Darden was earning $3 an hour as a part-time package handler for UPS in Buffalo. He became SVP of the company's U.S. operation, and according to Fortune magazine, one of the most powerful Black Executives in the nation. At the time, Cal Darden ranked 8th on Fortune's list of 50 most powerful Black Executives, above former White House adviser Vernon Jordan (No. 9) and TV talk show host and businesswoman Oprah Winfrey (No. 10).

Cal Darden ran UPS entire U.S. operation, which included 320,000 employees and almost all of the company's more than $30 billion in annual revenue. He would drive from Budd Lake, New Jersey to Secaucus, New Jersey every day.

Cal needed a car phone. Ah, MANY people at UPS needed car phones. THE DRIVERS needed phones. 

I became friends with Cal. Over the years, he told me how he had worked hard since he was 15. He clerked at a neighborhood drugstore, washed cars and drove a taxi. Working was necessary in his family of seven children. His father earned about $100 per week as a core maker for American Standard (NYSE: ASD) and his mother stayed at home with the children.

Over the course of his career, Cal moved ten times. In 1995 he moved to HQ in Atlanta. He was always aware of his position as a role model for aspiring Black Executives and he volunteered his time to mentor them. He started a chapter of the Black Executive Exchange Program at UPS and he traveled around the nation to colleges and universities talking to students.

Because of Cal, my first sale in the cellular phone business was: UPS. I was profitable from day one, and never looked back. Over the years, we would joke about how I owed his mother millions.

"If it were not for an elderly Black woman you would never have won the UPS account!"

"OMG, you guys are Black? I never noticed!"

Lessons from my father:  you make your own luck in this world.

And, Dad taught me to be color blind.

Happy Father's Day everyone.

Calvin Darden