Sunday, December 15, 2019

All in favor, say "AI"

Do you know what this is?  A better question to ask would be have you ever USED one of these?

This past week, members of NYDLA gathered to attend the AI Summit in NYC. If you Google "What is Artificial Intelligence" you will get a good idea of how AI is transforming the world. Manufacturing, retailing, transportation, finance, healthcare, law, insurance, education - pretty much every industry.

So many NYDLA vendors and sponsors had amazing booths at the AI Summit at Javits Center. Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Accenture. IBM Watson was giving out T-Shirts which at first glance made me pause (be it only for a second) as my OK Boomer brain saw "iHeart a Rotary Telephone"

Everything we love about civilization is a product of intelligence.

So, amplifying our human intelligence with artificial intelligence has the potential of helping civilization flourish like never before. Or will AI lead to the end of civilization?

If you Google "telephone" you will see images like this:

But if you Google just "phone" you will see images like this:



As I spent two days at the AI Summit, I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing. It hit me pretty quickly that what's happening in the world of AI is not just an important topic, but by far THE most important topic for our future. 

Moore's Law is a historically-reliable rule that the world's maximum computing power doubles approximately every two years, meaning computer hardware advancement, like general human advancement through history, grows exponentially.

So, the world's $1000 computers today are smarter than a mouse brain, which is about a thousandth of human level. But we were at about a trillionth of human level in 1985, a billionth in 1995 and a millionth in 2005. So based on Moore's Law, we shall have an affordable computer by 2025 that rivals the power of the human brain. That's five years from now. 

Let's talk about something different - but not different at all.

A few days before the AI Summit, I received an advance reading copy (galley) of Rohit Bhargava's new book. For the past ten years, his signature annual Non-Obvious Trend Report has helped over a million readers discover more than 100 trends changing our culture. Rohit and his team of trend curators take an expansive look at the research to reveal "Megatrends" that are transforming how we work, play and live. 

And the mission of "NYED-LA" is living, learning, working, playing - in the clouds. Rohit Bhargava has agreed to do a video podcast with me - which shall reach millions of people around the world via the Workplace by Facebook platform.

NYDLA.net (dot net) is powered by Workplace, which empowers us to engage with millions of members in every time zone. Just a few years ago, this would have been impossible. Today, it is not only easy to reach a global audience - it is expected.

If you had a "time machine" you could transport someone from 100 years ago, show them today's technology and it would possibly kill them with sensory overload. But that person from 100 years ago, would have to travel back 1000 years, to have the same effect. And a person from 1,000 years ago, would have to go back 10,000 years to have the same "mind blowing" impact on a time traveler, can you see that?

This pattern - human progress moving quicker and quicker as time goes on - is what futurist Ray Kurzweil calls human history's Law of Accelerating Returns.

AI Summit NYC - 5,000+ Attending Live

There is a cool video on Amazon and Netflix right now, about the 1964 New York World's Fair (I went, I was four). Or, you can watch clips on YouTube for free. Some of these visions of the future came true - others not so much. But the Law of Accelerating Returns seems to be on full display.

The kind of superintelligence we're talking about today is something beyond normal imagination. We are living in an intelligence explosion - where the smarter a machine gets, the quicker it's able to increase its own intelligence, until it begins to soar upwards, getting exponentially smarter.

In my lifetime, certainly in my children's lifetime, we shall be facing the reality of coexisting on the Earth with something (a machine) that is as intelligent as your Uncle Harry (or maybe a millions times smarter) than your Uncle Harry.

And definitely smarter than the average 17 year old, right?












Sunday, December 1, 2019

No deals without the feels

As of this post, the E.T. and Elliot Holiday Reunion Short has been watched 10M+ times on YouTube. This number is certain to go up over the rest of the month. My prediction, it will hit 100M+ views before January.

Released on June 11, 1982, E.T. was an immediate blockbuster, surpassing Star Wars to become the highest-grossing film of all time - a record it held for eleven years until Jurassic Park, another Spielberg film surpassed it in 1993.

The Comcast Xfinity commercial (short film) is a great example of the emotions of sales. How feelings drive purchases. How the way that we "feel about the deal" is at the core of every transaction, consumer or commercial.

https://www.xfinity.com/et might have "Won the Internet" for the holiday shopping season 2019.

So, did you shop on Black Friday? Trying to avoid making a purchase on Black Friday is like trying to NOT EAT pie the day after Thanksgiving.

What about Small Business Saturday? The goal of Small Business Saturday is to remind consumers that they play a key role in helping the small business community to thrive, and it encourages people to get out and shop and dine locally.

And tomorrow is Cyber Monday, setting the stage for an Amazon / Walmart / Best Buy / Costco / Target attempt to break the Internet.

Beyond the holiday giving spirit, there are deeper psychological reasons for spending massively.

Everyone loves a deal. When we buy something at a price that's lower than what you are willing to pay, or lower than the expected price - this is very satisfying. Even when we don't need what is on sale, the value of the deal itself triggers dopamine in our brains. In reality, sales happen all year long and prices fluctuate.

FOMO or "fear of missing out" drives people to purchase things they otherwise would not purchase. Consumers tend to give in and make a spontaneous purchase because it feels like a gamble to try to find a better deal elsewhere.

And then there is something called Shopping Momentum. Once you buy one thing, there is a psychological impulse to purchase a second, unrelated product. So, shopping creates more shopping. This is why door-buster deals can have loss leader items to bait you to making a first purchase. ANY purchase will do. You might shop and buy a smart TV at an amazing price, but once you make THAT purchase you then buy other items that are not deeply discounted.

So back to E.T.'s return journey to Earth for the holiday season. It focuses on the importance of bringing the family together. Henry Thomas reprises his role as Elliot, now a father, reuniting with the alien. Cute little E.T. has hacked into your brain's happy chemicals: dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin.

Understanding a prospective client's buying motives are much more powerful than possessing selling skills or deploying sales tricks and techniques.

People buy things for emotional reasons, and then they will use logic to justify and defend their purchases. 

OK, class is in session. Watch the video below, and then focus on how you feel. If you are already an Xfinity customer, you are going feel BETTER about yourself. You might not leave Xfinity if you were thinking about switching to a competitor. If you are on the fence, you might become a NEW Xfinity customer, based on your positive emotions.

But simply watching this video will get you into the holiday spirit, and it will help you to justify any and all of your 2019 holiday purchases.











Sunday, November 24, 2019

Are your pants flammable or inflammable?

First of all, flammable and inflammable do not mean the same thing. If your pants are flammable, it means they can be set to fire, such as a piece of wood. However, inflammable means that your pants are capable of bursting into flames without the need for any ignition. The opposite of both words is non-flammable.

Is it ever OK to lie? What about when under oath? What about during wartime?

Most people would say that lying is bad. I remember studying Immanuel Kant while at PURDUE and it was thought that lying is always ALWAYS unacceptable and wrong. Like you should never, ever lie. Period.

So how about:
  1. You lie to your wife or husband, to get them to a location where there shall be a surprise birthday party waiting for them.
  2. A young child was in a terrible accident. Their parents have been killed in the crash, but the child is unaware of this. The child is barely conscious, as they ask about their parents. The attending physician says they are OK - but the physician intends to tell the child the truth once they are stronger and more stable. 
  3. A woman's husband drowned in a car accident when the car plunged off a bridge. It was clear from the physical evidence that the husband desperately tried to get out of the car, and died a terrible death. At the hospital, the wife asks the attending physician what kind of death her husband suffered. The physician says: he died immediately from the impact, he did not suffer.
  4. I am negotiating for a new car. The salesperson asks me what is the maximum I am prepared to pay for the new car. I say $30,000 when I would really pay $35,000.
  5. A woman interviewing for a job she desperately needs is asked if she intends to have children. She knows that such a question is none of their business, and possibly illegal to ask, she lies and says that she does not intend to have a family. 
  6. Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust, lying to an SS officer.
I could make a longer list. And I am sure that really smart people can give compelling reasons why even with really good reasons - it is never, ever OK to lie. 

Liar Liar is a 1997 comedy film with Jim Carrey who plays a crooked lawyer Fletcher Reede. Through the magic of the movie, Fletcher realizes that he cannot lie - he can ONLY speak the truth at all times, no matter what. Think about a lawyer unable to ask questions if confident of a false response. The movie is funny because the premise of an attorney who CANNOT LIE is so absurd.

Anyone watch the impeachment hearings this week? 

Perjury, the crime of not "telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" is a serious offense because it can derail the basic goal of the justice system - the goal of discovering the truth. Is a lie by omission still a lie? Paltering, or using truth as misdirection is considered to be just as ethically rotten as telling a bald-faced lie. 

Science is based on truth. Medicine is based on truth. Our entire society is based on identifying and defending - the truth. STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math stops working, if we do not defend the truth. 

The video below is going viral on the Internet this week. It is worth watching - try to fit it into your Thanksgiving break. I am not a huge fan of Sacha Baron Cohen the actor, comedian, screenwriter, director and film producer. But I think I would like to shake his hand and buy him a beer. 

As we enter Thanksgiving Week here in the USA, I think we should be truly thankful that we are even allowed to watch this video without living in fear of retribution. I still believe with all my heart that the USA is the greatest country in the world.

But I also believe that we are still a work in progress. We can do better, and we shall do better. We get the leadership we vote for so VOTE! And, we also vote with "our money" when at the store, or online. 

Sacha Baron Cohen accepted the International Leadership Award 
at the Anti-Defamation League’s Never is Now Summit.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Autonomously Yours

An autonomous person makes their own decisions rather than being influenced by someone else. Autonomous individuals are those who follow their own course of action relatively unimpeded by others.

It's hard to believe but around 200 years ago, everything was made by hand. The Flying Shuttle doubled the output a weaver could make, thereby allowing the workforce to be halved. The Spinning Jenny increased wool mills productivity and was considered to be groundbreaking. It was the main driver for the development of the modern factory system.

The Watt Steam Engine, The Cotton Gin, Telegraph, Portland Cement and the invention of concrete. I guess the list of life-changing inventions of the industrial revoltion is a long one.

And now.....

This Tuesday I'll be at NASDAQ MarketSite 4 Times Square for a fireside chat with Knightscope's Chairman and CEO, William Santana Li.

Knightscope is an advanced security technology company based in Silicon Valley. They build fully autonomous security robots that deter, detect and report.

From their website, their long-term ambition is to make the United States the safest country in the world.


Today, Knightscope has four different robot models. Clients are charged $7 per hour for each machine they use - a price designed to compete with the minimum wage in various states. The robots operate on a 24/7 basis, usually with a minimum of two robots per location.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and are a critical component to helping the U.S. win the future. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators.

STEM jobs pay very well. The median earning for all non-STEM jobs in the country is $19.30/hour. The average median hourly wage for STEM jobs? $38.85. Some quick math says STEM jobs pay $19.55 more than all others. And that's way better than minimum wage.

STEM jobs are also abundant and growing. The thing about STEM is that it never sleeps. It won't reach a point and just stop being important. It won't stop evolving. The umbrella under which all of these STEM jobs falls keeps expanding. AI and Machine Learning. Cybersecurity. These were "things" back in 2013, but they are much (much) bigger now.

Parents, it's never too early to introduce STEM to your child.

200 years seems like a blink of the eye. Antibiotics, Video Games, Television, Airplanes, Cell Phones, Penicillin, Refrigerators, Satellites, Air Conditioning. In less than 200 years we as a nation went from "everything made by hand" to watching the Mars rover live on your smartphone.

I'll be recording an NYDLA Video Podcast with William Santana Li this Friday. According to their website, they are hiring.

Of course they are.

They are hiring STEM workers.

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Explores Teal Ridge (360 View)





Sunday, November 10, 2019

Doing the Electric Slido

Ever do the "Electric Slide" at a wedding? More on that later.

Slido is a technology company that enhances communication and increases interaction at events and meetings. Live or virtually.

Slido (the product) is an audience interaction platform for meetings and events. It allows meeting and event organizers to crowdsource top questions to drive meaningful conversations, engage participants with live polls and capture valuable event data.

Since 2012, Slido has helped to transform over 320,000 events across more than 130 countries by engaging millions of participants. 

This past week, NYDLA attended an event (live) in NYC with the Slido team and their client Spotify. We learned about how Spotify handles internal communication across multiple global offices. We learned about meeting design techniques, and how to organize and facilitate effective all-hands meetings that have a positive impact on company culture and growth.

Just some of the "tips and tricks" that we covered during our live Slido event:

  1. Crowdsource and discuss your team's highlights
  2. Celebrate your silent heroes
  3. Acknowledge personal triumphs
  4. Review seasonal numbers in a quiz
  5. Share your customer success stories
  6. Don't forget to have fun!
  7. Make sure your AV setup is flawless
  8. Appoint a moderator for the online audience
  9. Include remote presenters
  10. Give a warm welcome and re-engage
  11. Have a remote champion for the Q&A
  12. Share the meeting recordings
  13. Dedicate 25% of the time to Q&A
  14. Start collecting questions in advance
  15. Consider allowing anonymous questions
  16. Review the questions and prepare outputs
  17. Have a moderator lead the conversation
  18. Rehearse before your Q&A
  19. Manage expectations
  20. Crowdsource the questions live
  21. Acknowledge the tough questions
  22. Take questions from the floor
  23. Address any outstanding questions in writing
  24. Start "Ask Me Anything" with the CEO
  25. Ask for feedback directly during the meeting

Like everything in the world, meetings and events need to evolve. 

What will meetings and events (live or virtual) look like in the future? At NYDLA.org we believe that meetings and events will be interactive, collaborative, inclusive and transparent. Most of all meetings and events need to be experiences that people look forward to!

Whether your company (or your team, or your school, or your class, or....) is made up of 10 or 10,000+ people, you need to give people a voice. With the mantra "employees are the company's first customers," an all-hands meeting is a space where people have the chance to express themselves and have direct, face-to-face conversation with their leaders. To be able to do that, an all-hands meeting has to provide them with enough opportunities for engagement and personal interaction.

With teams often distributed across different locations and time zones, all-hands meetings are one-of-a-kind opportunities to engage remote colleagues and help them to feel a part of the team. At NYDLA, we know how easy it is for online participants to tune out or feel excluded unless they are compelled to pay attention and contribute.

Using tools like Slido and via using proven techniques perfected by industry experts, you can engage your remote colleagues, make it easier for them to participate, let them be heard and get the most out of each all-hands meeting. 


Now back to the Electric Slide: The dance is a four wall dance set to the hit song "Electric Boogie" which hit the USA in 1976. Today, you cannot attend a wedding, bat mitzvah, school dance or just about anyplace people gather who want to dance and have a good time - without the Electric Slide making an appearance. 

It's easy to learn, it's easy to do, and it's fun.


Members of "Team Buckley" dance to the electric slide during the Air Force Ball
MASTER SGT. J. LAVOIE/BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Chief Exnovation Officer

The fifth annual Fast Company Innovation Festival is November 4-8 at various locations throughout New York City. It features newsmakers in business, the arts, and social impact for a week of panel discussions, immersive workshops, purposeful networking, and interactive field trips led by curated Fast Company journalists. 

The NYDLA global community is invited to attend, at special members-only pricing. 

The theme of this year's festival, "A Connected World," seeks to highlight the technological advancements that are accelerating the connections among people, places, and things while also shining a spotlight on the importance of forging strong human and cultural connections. 

NYDLA: Distance Learning > DIGITAL Learning > DIGITAL LIVING. OK, yeah, I get it. Living, learning, working, playing on a global basis, via technology. Yes, this festival is a fit for NYED-LA

A FESTIVAL is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect of that community (intellectual, creative, technology, science, etc.). 

Festival? Sounds like there will be food - sign me up!


INNOVATION is a cool word, right? How do you not love and support innovation? In business, the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value would be innovation. Sometimes new products and services can be ground-breaking and revolutionary, resulting from major new technologies such as 3D printing or nanotechnology. 

Sometimes innovation shows up in small, simple or "why did I not think of that" or "Hey, that was my idea!" moments like turning a ketchup squeeze bottle upside down as improved packaging. 

In today's world, consumers are always looking for what's new, what's best, fastest, more convenient, more fashionable. Business today cannot sit still for if you do not successfully innovate you will be passed by. Global competitors and start-ups can easily leapfrog industry incumbents. Today, complacency is not a option. We live in a globally connected marketplace. We are now all competing in an ever increasingly educated and talented world with lower labor costs - successful start-ups can pop up anywhere.

Yes, Innovation is a very cool and powerful word. 

But so is Exnovation.

Exnovation is the process of eliminating the unsustainable, irrelevant or unsuitable to constantly improve and renew the innovation process. Exnovation is the process of removal of innovations that are not effective in improving organizational performance, are too disruptive to routine operations, or do not fit well with the existing organizational strategy, incentives, structure and/or culture. John Kimberly first coined the term exnovation in 1981 to describe the removal of process at the tail end of the innovation cycle. 

Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest Airlines, was a maverick and innovator in every sense of the word. He started his innovative, cost-cutting airline when flights were expensive and few people could afford them. Herb was known for his inspirational quotes:

"We have a strategic plan - it's called doing things."

"Your people come first, and if you treat them right, they'll treat the customers right."

"I tell my employees that we're in the service business, and it's incidental that we fly airplanes."

Yes, Herb Keller was a great innovator, but he was ALSO a great exnovator. 

"Today, there is one best way to land a plane. And that BEST WAY is how we are going to do it, every time, all the time. If we ever find a BETTER way to land a plane, then we shall do it THAT way." 


There is an underlying assumption that innovation is good, so then MORE innovation must be better. But the true masters, the Herb Kellers, the Walt Disneys and the Steve Jobs of the world - they were masters of both INNOVATION and EXNOVATION. You need both.

Innovation creates the magic. 

Exnovation is what makes the magic last. 

As in the case of folks like Steve Jobs, Herb Keller, Walt Disney and many others, their legacy - the magic of their innovation lasts long after they have left us. 

Come join us at the Fast Company Innovation (and Exnovation) Festival in NYC this November. 









Sunday, October 20, 2019

Winter Is Coming

Hark! The Winter Village in Bryant Park will be open for the holiday season this year before you can say "trick or treat."

I was in the park this past week, watching them assemble the magical winter wonderland. There shall be free ice-skating on the 17,000+ square foot outdoor rink. There shall be 180+ holiday shops, including a bunch of new kiosks and eateries for your shopping pleasure. I actually sat down for almost an hour and watched as they were assembling the Winter Village like one big Lego project.

If it feels wrong or weird to be talking about Christmas and the holidays before you have even made a dent in your Halloween candy, I'm with you.

Bryant Park is a 9.603-acre privately managed public park located in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is located between Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas and between 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan.

I love Bryant Park. I love it all year long.

But the Winter Village is really something special. Countless stores ranging from home decorations, artwork, jewelry and amazing food. If you are looking for a unique place to have dinner in NYC, this is a great choice. The Winter Village in Bryant Park is not only the largest Christmas market in the city, but also by far the nicest. And it is so easy to get to from anywhere - it's just a few blocks away from Port Authority Bus Terminal, or Grand Central or Penn Station.

But - opening the Bryant Park Winter Village before Halloween? Seriously?

Last year the Winter Village was open from October until March 4th. That is over 1/3rd of the year. Is it just me, or does it seem that every year they push it just a little harder, open just a little sooner, and close just a little later?

We used to joke about Thanksgiving and Christmas - how you really should not be "pushing the holidays" ie: SHOPPING before we have our amazing turkey dinner and tryptophan induced food coma.

But now - Christmas...before Halloween?

My personal opinion: this is the Amazon Effect in The Big Apple.

Small business continues to get squeezed. Our friend Seth Godin covered this today in his blog: the simple dynamics of failing retail. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the Bryant Park Winter Village and I will tell everyone I know to check it out.

NYDLA.org will have its Christmas Party there this year, just like we always do. But our Christmas Holiday party will be in DECEMBER, as close to December 25th as possible.

My point is this: you cannot keep opening earlier and earlier in the year, to offset the Amazon effect. Seth says it very well: you cannot beat Amazon. You cannot figure out how to be as cheap as Amazon...you can't. But as a small business owner you CAN figure out how to do what Amazon cannot do.

People who will shop at the Winter Village want the hands-on service, they want to try things on, they want the chance to chat. They want the experience. The experience you cannot get online.

Trying to manipulate the calendar to compete against Amazon is not the way to do it. That's a race to the bottom. Or maybe it's like a ride on a carousel - you are moving but you are not really getting anywhere.


Bryant Park Carousel