Sunday, September 24, 2023

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends...

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

… Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends

Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends

With a little help from my friends...

Written collaboratively by John Lennon and Paul McCartney during the final stages of the Sgt. Pepper project, 'With A Little Help From My Friends' was sung by Ringo Starr. The song was written for and sung by the Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr as the character "Billy Shears". It was ranked No. 311 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Throughout the band's journey to America, Ringo became the most popular member of The Beatles. It was explained that Ringo was so popular that the Beatles manager George Martin wanted to capitalise on his growing fandom. Therefore, the drummer was given a song on each record.

I think that my favorite thing that I do - my favorite thing that I GET to do... is our Coffee In The Clouds video podcasts. I'll come back to this.....

What did George Martin have to do with the Beatles? 

Sir George Martin, producer of almost the entire awe-inspiring recorded catalogue of The Beatles and a hugely accomplished writer, arranger and musician with countless other achievements to his name, was born in Highbury, north London, on January 3, 1926.

What did Beatle Paul McCartney think of George Martin?

“He was a true gentleman and like a second father to me. He guided the career of the Beatles with such skill and good humour that he became a true friend to me and my family. If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George,” McCartney wrote.

Mark Fortier is the founder and president of Fortier Public Relations, LLC. His 30-years of publicizing hundreds of successful books earned him the​ ​2019 Porchlight Jack Covert Award for Contribution to the Business Book Industry​. He is the sixth recipient (and first publicist) following previous winners like Tom Peters and Seth Godin.

Before founding Fortier Public Relations, LLC in January 2007, Mark worked at book publicity firm Goldberg McDuffie Communications for almost nine years, rising from assistant director of publicity to director of publicity to vice president to partner (the first and only employee there to earn this title). There he worked with literary authors including Philip Roth and Henry Louis Gates, public officials like Robert Rubin, the CEOs of Citigroup and AT&T and organizations ranging from The Library of America to the National Endowment for the Arts. Books he worked on ranged from the global bestseller The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho to the Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow, which was adapted for the surprise Broadway hit musical. The first two business books he worked on are now classics: The Innovator’s Solution by Clayton Christensen and Blue Ocean Strategy, which has now sold over four million copies.

Fortier's media placements include NPR Fresh Air & Morning Edition, Today, Good Morning America, CBS, Daily Show with Trevor Noah, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the covers of Time, Newsweek, Fortune and The New York Times Book Review, the Tim Ferriss podcast, the oped page and Saturday Essay of The Wall Street Journal and the front page of The New York Times.

He is far more proud of the accomplishments of his growing team at Fortier PR, where he enjoys applying the management lessons he’s learned from the best leaders and business school professors who are our clients. Previously Mark held positions at Penguin U.S.A. and Columbia University Press.

Mark is a graduate of Wesleyan University, and has studied at New York University and the University of London. His work has been recognized by Newsday, The New York Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Publishers Weekly, Book Publishing Report, and PRWeek. He has written about book publicity for numerous trade publications, and has lectured on book publicity at the Public Relations Society of America national convention, the Association of American University Presses, the New York Advertising and Communications Network and Thinkers 50. An interview with Mark is included as a chapter in several books including Publicize Your Book, What No One Ever Tells You About Blogging and Podcasting and How to Write a Business Book That Matters.

Several years ago... I had the pleasure of meeting the folks at Fortier Public Relations

Thanks to Tom Peters. I'll come back to this...

For over sixteen years, FPR has represented Pulitzer Prize winners, 208 books on the bestseller list including 76 in the last two years, 21 #1 bestsellers, and books by 33 of the Thinkers 50 list of the world’s leading business thinkers including Jim Collins, Clayton Christensen, Seth Godin, Marcus Buckingham, and Amy Edmondson, journalists like Maria Bartiromo, virtually every publishing house, and the CEOs, presidents and/or founders of Starbucks, Facebook, Alphabet, Google, GM, Citigroup, IBM, CVS Health, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, AT&T, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, BP, Deloitte, Whole Foods Market, Best Buy, Honeywell, Home Depot, Yum! Brands, IDEO, Innosight, Mayo Clinic, Nokia, Aetna, NASDAQ, AIG, BP, Gallup, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hearst Magazines, MetLife, Seventh Generation, Medtronic, The Container Store, Dunkin Donuts, Texas Roadhouse, Gilt Groupe, Korn Ferry, Kleiner Perkins, Burson-Marsteller, Kickstarter, Nielsen, Razorfish, Reddit, Salomon Brothers, SHRM, The Harris Poll, JWT, Loews Hotels, Equinox, Flywheel, Putnam Investments, Oaktree Capital, Paychex, Guardian Life, MetLife, LRN, Compass, Twilio, The Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), Brooks Running, Mandalay Entertainment, The Conference Board, Summit Series, Russell Reynolds, HubSpot, YSC, Okta, Snowflake, Nest, Stanford University and Simmons University.

I really don't know exactly how it happened, but a few years ago I (chased? stalked?) ah, I reached out to Tom Peters (via social media, no less...) about his new book. I thought he would make a great interview - and we could promote his new book via the interview. It took a few tries, but Tom Peters finally said yes. I might have begged, not sure. I remember it like it was yesterday - landing that Tom Peters interview. Tom Freakin' Peters! It was THAT Tom Peters interview that put us on the map - with the folks at Fortier. That interview lead to another, and another author from Fortier PR - the award-winning Manhattan based PR firm for business and nonfiction authors and thought leaders.

When we interview someone famous, their community becomes our community. Actors, Authors, Thought Leaders, Subject Matter Experts - those interviews now attract millions

Show me a Tom Peters fan, and I'll show you someone who should - full stop. Yes, Tom Peters was our first big interview. And now, 100+ AMAZING interviews later...

What does Tom Capone think of Mark Fortier - and of all the folks at Fortier PR?

Sing it with me...

… Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends

Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends

With a little help from my friends...

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Obi-SD-WAN Kenobi

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

SD-WAN, or Software-Defined Wide Area Network, is a technology that simplifies the management and operation of a wide area network (WAN) by separating the networking hardware from its control mechanism. It uses software-based controllers and application programming interfaces (APIs) to direct traffic across the WAN and improve application performance.

Not GEEK enough for you?

SD-WAN technology has gained popularity as organizations seek more flexible, agile, and cost-effective ways to manage their wide area networks, especially in the context of the growing adoption of cloud services and the increasing demand for remote work solutions. It simplifies network management and enhances performance while offering better control and security options.

Ah, Tom.... is today's Sunday Blog going to be "for Nerds only" ???

A few months ago... in a galaxy far, far away....  [ .. ok, sorry...]

In early 2023 I attended an SD-WAN webinar from AireSpring. I'm an old telecom guy, I wanted to get up to speed on SD-WAN, the technology that improves control, management, up time, business agility, security, and data encryption of Wide Area Networks. The webinar was very well done indeed. 

I followed up with AireSpring. I said: "Hey I used to be a Master Agent with you guys - like - 23 years ago! It was back when you guys were selling BlackBerry, and I owned and ran in NYC. I was servicing the Maritime Industry, and BlackBerry was a big deal. I am thinking about being your Master Agent (again) to service the millions of members of NYDLA | USDLA | NADLA - but now for telecom and technology solutions. 

Nope, Sorry Tom. 

AireSpring is not taking on any new Master Agents. And.... if we DID make an exception, you would need to have $1M+ in business - right now - today. That would be table stakes to get in the game. But again, we are not really accepting new Master Agents. We would, however, be happy to place you under one of our existing Master Agents, like Telarus or Sandler Partners

It is now that I would normally go battle, to "fight" for the deal. But this time, I basically began to slowly walk away. Maybe I'm getting too old for this game. But as I was heading for the exit, I did say: 

"Well, you guys at AireSpring are probably the most honest company in telecom. You guys STILL send me a commission check every month, even though it is WAY less than $100. This money is from old business that I sent you YEARS ago. Your honesty is impressive, and rare in the industry." 

  • Wait. You are still getting checks from AireSpring? In 2023? 
  • Then - you are still active in the AireSpring system as a Master Agent.
  • We (AireSpring) have never missed an agent payment - in 22 years.
  • Then - you are (still) a "Legacy" Master Agent! 
This is like finding a Ferrari under a tarp in the barn of Great Grandpa's old country farmhouse. 

Last Friday, I attended the AireSpring "Lunch 'n Learn" at the Capital Grill in New York City. It did not disappoint. The product portfolio of AireSpring has grown dramatically over the past 23 years. I jokingly said at the lunch: "AireSpring is probably the biggest telecom company that no one ever heard of..." currently processing 30 billion calls per year. 

Around 23 years ago, AireSpring would leave BlackBerry and they would go into the Long Distance Business. I dabbled in various telecom and technology niche businesses over the last 23 years. And now, today, I run the Distance Learning Association, which really has become DIGITAL Learning, and now, in 2023... DIGITAL LIVING. 

All things remote. All things cloud. All things wireless and mobility. All things Internet. All of the things that are now found in the AireSpring portfolio. Connectivity. Security. You know, things like SD-WAN.

We are now getting ready to offer all things AireSpring to the 5.8M+ members of The Distance Learning Association - soon to be 10M+ members if we keep growing at our current pace. If we do not become the #1 AireSpring partner over the next 24 months, we did something very (very) wrong. 

I feel that there are many lessons here, buried like Easter Eggs in today's Sunday Blog. One is that you need to show up - and speak up. The other: it pays to never miss an agent payment in over 22 years. 

Yep, Honesty is the Best Policy.  Karma works! 

And finally this: the steaks at the Capital Grill at Rockefeller Center NYC are amazing. 

Sunday, September 10, 2023

For Sale: Used Flux Capacitor. Works Great!

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

The Flux Capacitor is a piece of technology in the 1985 time-travel film Back to the Future and its sequels. Although it’s described as the thing that makes time travel possible, the precise mechanism it works by isn’t ever explained. It simply consists of a box with three flashing lights connected in a Y shape, installed in the film’s iconic time-traveling vehicle, the DeLorean, a short-lived sports car famed for its doors, which open up rather than out. The flux capacitor was invented by Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and allows Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) to time-travel.

So, there really is no such thing as a Flux Capacitor. Not yet, anyway...

Yes, a flux capacitor is a bit of fun sci-fi technobabble made up of two pieces of genuine scientific terminology. In physics, flux is the amount of something (like electricity) that’s passing through a given object’s surface and a capacitor is a device that stores electric charge.

What about luck? And is there such a thing as a luck capacitor? What is luck - scientifically?

Luck refers to that which happens to a person beyond that person's control. This view incorporates phenomena that are chance happenings, a person's place of birth for example, but where there is no uncertainty involved, or where the uncertainty is irrelevant.

Having an open attitude and looking around for new opportunities can open you up to lucky chances. Look on the positive side: Focusing only on the negatives dampens your spirits and future expectations.

Today, I bring you the story of Cockerell Academy.

Ah, but let's go back in time, shall we? Here is the original thread, cut and pasted from LinkedIn:

Sunday. February 26, 2017 (10:48 AM EST) Me: Lee, I met you via David Burkus. YOU.......are amazing. I would LOVE to add you to the TALENT pages of the You have the gift to get the point out to the millenials. Can we talk one day soon?

Ten minutes later...

Sunday. February 26, 2017 (10:58 AM EST) Lee: Hello, Tom. Nice to meet you. I am on a speaking tour right now. I will be in my car from 2-5 today and tomorrow from 1-5 if you want to call me: 407-908-XXXX. 

And so, on a Sunday afternoon, February 26, 2017 I kept Lee Cockerell company during his drive time. 

On March 7th, 2017 I flew down to Orlando to meet Lee. I just felt it in my bones. I had to go, so I bought a ticket and flew to Orlando. Just, go. Take the shot. 

And so, at a cool restaurant bar in Dr. Phillips, Florida, the idea for Cockerell Academy was born. Lee's body of work, his lessons, his lifetime of wisdom could be hosted in Cockerell Academy for the entire world to benefit. 

Sometime in April 2017, less than 30 days later, Lee asked me: "Tom, how far do you live from Mount Olive, NJ"? Turns out that Lee's grandson was going to be spending a college summer internship in Mount Olive, and the family was having trouble finding a short term rental, in a good neighborhood. 

Lee and his family were asking for advice on where they could rent for a few months for their most precious treasure - their grandson. 

Me: "Well, we are not far at all, Lee. Maybe 20 minute drive, if that. Also, the 2nd floor of our house is now empty. Both of our sons have moved out. Your grandson would be welcome to stay with my wife and I for the summer as our guest. He can have the entire 2nd floor - I never go up there as it is! Home cooked meals included!"

I have many Lee Cockerell stories. Via Lee we met his son, Dan Cockerell who drove his son (Lee's grandson) up to NJ, to our home. The video podcast interviews with Lee, with Dan, and with (Lee and Dan) have been some of the most viewed interviews of all time. The idea for Cockerell Academy which was born in March 2017 at a bar in an amazing restaurant in Dr. Phillips, Florida took off. I am no longer involved, that baton was passed. But I continue to tell the world to check out Cockerell Academy. And, via the Cockerell family, we met and interviewed Harris Rosen in Orlando, the founder of Rosen Hotels & Resorts. But that is a blog for another day... 

So, back to luck.

Luck could be defined as a chance event that occurs without any control or intention. Luck can have a significant impact on the outcomes of our lives, it can come in the form of unexpected opportunities, chance encounters, or random events that we have no control over.

Today: the video podcast interviews that we host via NYDLA | USDLA | NADLA reach millions of people, mostly thought leaders and subject matter experts from the world of business. Our global membership is growing exponentially, because of friends telling friends. Friends like Lee and Dan Cockerell. 

The Flux Capacitor might not actually exist, but Luck Capacitors do. Yes, Luck Capacitors most certainly do exist - and I highly recommend that you put a Luck Capacitor to work for you and for your business today. 

And with that... In June of this year, I (once again) fired up my trusty Luck Capacitor. It went well. Very well. Coming Soon to the Cumulus University ( I bring you the Cialdini Institute. 

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Do as I say not as I do

Who is the "Father" of persuasion?

In ancient Greece during the 4th century BC the father of persuasion, Aristotle, opposed a group of teachers known as the Sophists. The Sophists provided instruction in various disciplines, but became infamous for their teaching of rhetoric.

OK, then who is the "Godfather" of persuasion? 

Dr. Robert Cialdini. He is the most cited living expert in the field of persuasion research and is best known for his 1984 publication on persuasion and marketing, Influence: the psychology of persuasion which has sold millions of copies and has been translated into 30+ languages.

Cialdini has spent his career researching the science of influence. This has earned him an international reputation as an expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation. Because of the global recognition of his research and his ethical business and policy applications, he is often regarded as the Godfather of influence AND persuasion.

Cialdini's 6 Principles of Influence are reciprocity, commitment or consistency, consensus or social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity.

And now there are 7. Unity: us and them.

Humans are social. We need to be part of a group, community, or family. The unity principle, which Cialdini penned only a few years ago, concerns this desire for shared identities. They’re about relationships and bonds. You have a strong bond with your best friend, that’s the main reason you trust their judgment. Brands can boost conversions by communicating with their audience like they’re family.

Sometime in 2017... Dr. Robert Cialdini says: "hey guys, I found another one..."


A few years ago, Dr. Cialdini wrote:

…now I believe that there is a seventh universal principle that I had missed — not because some new cultural phenomenon or technological shift brought it to my attention but because it was hiding beneath the surface of my data all along.

This new principle of influence is called Unity, the feeling that the people or entities involved share an identity, that is to say, people perceive the influencer as part of some definition of “us.” By fostering that shared identity, by implying an “us,” you become more influential.

June 2023: New York Times Bestselling Author of Influence and Pre-Suasion and Keynote Speaker Dr. Cialdini is approached by me to do a interview. I found him on LinkedIn, we have been connected there since 2017. Cool. 

July 2023: ADMIN for "Hi Thomas, I spoke with the CEO of the Cialdini Institute, Bas Wouters, and he would be interested in having a 30 minute conversation with you to find out if your video podcast is a good fit for Dr. Cialdini."

August 2023: Three Zoom meetings with Bas Wouters [my new BFF...].

September 2023: we shall be inviting the millions of members of | | to join us in attending and benefitting from the Cialdini Institute. 

OK, folks. One more time, with feeling: This new 7th principle of influence is called Unity, the feeling that the people (or entities) involved share an identity, that people perceive the influencer as part of some definition of “us.” Fostering shared identity - by implying an “us” - you become more influential.

For the last 15, maybe 20 years, I have been "preaching" about Distance Learning. I used to say that "everything is distance learning" using TED Talks and Netflix documentaries as real-life examples. I would say to everyone that I know and to everyone that I would meet that Distance Learning has become DIGITAL Learning, and now, it is all just DIGITAL LIVING

And over the years, my personal "catch phrase" became: We are all living, learning, working, playing, teaching, training, coaching, mentoring in the GLOBAL cloud economy. The future of work - the future of education - is in the clouds. Join us!


Sunday, August 20, 2023

Gigs and Jobs and Careers - Oh My!

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

“Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!” This quote, made famous by Judy Garland as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, could certainly apply to a zoo.

Or a life in business. If we change it to gigs and jobs and careers - Oh My!

What is the gig economy?

The IRS defines the gig economy as “activity where people earn income providing on-demand work, services or goods,” often through an app or website. This area of the job market consists of temporary, contract and freelance jobs.

The term “gig economy” gets thrown around most often in reference to jobs like working with a rideshare company, such as Uber or Lyft, making deliveries or walking dogs. But the gig economy spans virtually every industry and represents a large part of the workforce. A 2022 survey commissioned by Upwork found that 69 million Americans had freelanced within the previous 12 months.

What is a career vs. a job?

A career is a lifelong professional journey. The purpose of a career is to support your lifestyle while also reaching your goals and ambitions. In order to reach such goals, you may need a certain level of training, education or experience. Your career path tends to build upon itself. When first starting out in your profession, you typically have an entry-level position. As time goes on, you progress in your career, getting more advanced opportunities.

A job is something you do to earn money. It is less focused on your future achievements and more on the present moment of supporting yourself. Most jobs are short-term experiences, where you work for an hourly wage. Rather than focusing on your professional development, you're more focused on getting a specific task done.

Here are a dozen differences between jobs and careers:

Benefits: With a career, you often see full-time benefits. These may include paid-time-off, sick days, health insurance, dental coverage, retirement contributions and stock options. Jobs typically do not come with such benefits.

Hours: Those in careers tend to work a set of regular hours. Rather than clocking in and out of work, they are paid a set salary. With a job, your work tends to be more time-oriented. Your employer tends to pay you on an hourly basis. You may not have as predictable of a schedule, potentially working part-time hours.

Education: Careers tend to require more education and training than jobs do. With a career, you typically need some kind of degree or specialized skill set.

Intentions: The purpose of working a job is to earn money. Although your career is still how you support yourself, you also work toward reaching your goals and ambitions. When choosing a career, people tend to base this decision on their talents and passions.

Goals: Jobs focus on short-term goals while careers are centered around your long-term goals.

Turning one into the other: What starts off as a job can actually turn into a career. Think of your career as your long-term professional experience. Your jobs can make up a part of this experience.

Where you learn skills: While your main intent of a job is to make money, you can learn valuable skills that could translate into a career. For instance, when working as a barista, you learn how to follow directions and provide customer service. These skills are helpful for a wide variety of long-term careers.

Hierarchy: Those deeper into their careers tend to oversee people with jobs. For instance, a restaurant manager typically has a career in food and hospitality. They oversee waiters and waitresses who may not intend to turn foodservice into a career.

Types of work: Over the course of your career, you're likely to try a wide variety of responsibilities and tasks. With each individual job you have, you're likely to have fewer responsibilities compared to your entire career.

Work environments: Those with jobs vs. careers work in a variety of environments. Those with careers tend to get to know their teams better since they are in this role long-term.

Advancement: With a job, you may see a raise or promotion. This then can build into a career. As you get more experienced, you'll see even more job advancement opportunities.

Continued education: In order to progress in many careers, you need to continue your education. For example, many healthcare professionals must complete a certain amount of credits to keep their licenses.

OK, land the plane, Tom.....

Today, as of this blog, the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike has been going on for 3 months, 2 weeks, and 1 day. They say that the strike will continue on indefinitely. It surpassed 100 days, which is how long the 2007-2008 strike lasted. So, the 2023 strike is now officially the second longest WGA strike in history. The 1988 strike lasted 154 days. For the first time in over 60 years, the unions representing actors and Hollywood writers are staging a strike at the same time, protesting low pay and studios' proposals for using artificial intelligence tools in production. More than 175,000 union members are out of work until a deal is made.

The WGA demands increased minimum compensation in all areas of media, increased residuals, appropriate TV series-writing compensation from pre- to post production, increased contributions to pension and health plans, the strengthening of professional standards and the overall protections for writers, and more.

A “gig” (sometimes called a “side hustle”) is generally a short-term task, project or job that a person takes up to make extra cash. But many do gig work long term or as a main source of income. Some gig workers get paid per task or assignment. Others earn an hourly rate. The WGA is not gig work.

The folks that worked at Verizon on the BlueJeans product, no longer have jobs - with BlueJeans. They might still work at Verizon, in another product line. Or, they might go work for a competitor of BlueJeans, such as Zoom or Webex or GoTo, or Adobe, or RingCentral, or Dialpad, or...

Careers, are different. When you have a career, you are committed to an industry, to a cause, to a purpose. 

My friend Lee Cockerell is the former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World® Resort. “As the Senior Operating Executive for ten years Lee led a team of 40,000 Cast Members and was responsible for the operations of 20 resort hotels, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping & entertainment village and the ESPN sports and recreation complex in addition to the ancillary operations which supported the number one vacation destination in the world.” One of Lee’s major and lasting legacies was the creation of Disney Great Leader Strategies which was used to train and develop the 7000 leaders at Walt Disney World. Lee has held various executive positions in the hospitality and entertainment business with Hilton Hotels for 8 years and the Marriott Corporation for 17 years before joining Disney in 1990 to open the Disneyland Paris project. 

Lee had a career in hospitality and entertainment. Not a gig. Not a job. A CAREER. 

When you are willing to go on strike, when you are willing to walk a picket line, protesting for 3 months, 2 weeks and 1 day to fight for your way of earning a living, I think that is the purest definition of a CAREER. You are willing to NOT work, to have the opportunity TO WORK, in your chosen profession. 

Again, when planning your professional goals, it's important to know the difference between a gig, a career and a job. Although you work different ways to earn money and support your lifestyle, the various concepts aren't quite the same. With a career, you focus much more on your professional journey and achieving your goals.

They say that "you are not your job" but I am not so sure - because when your job becomes a CAREER, and - that career is something you are willing to fight for, to sacrifice for, to walk a picket line for - I think that you are indeed your career. You become your career, you identify as your career. The Writers Guild of America, the more than 175,000 union members are out of work - by their choice - until a proper deal is made. 

The WGA writers and SAG-AFTRA actors are demanding revised residual revenue structures from streaming platforms, higher salary minimums, and strict restrictions on the industry's use of A.I. MANY unions will now face the same existential question: Will A.I. be a useful tool to elevate and enhance artistic accomplishment, or will it make their jobs obsolete? For many union members, it is not just about money, or a way to make a living. [ How will AI change medicine, law, education, transportation, retail..... etc.? ]

It sounds like this WGA / Hollywood strike is all about their LIFE. They are fighting for their lives

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Jean, why so blue?

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

Jean is a common female given name in English-speaking countries. It is the Scottish form of Jane (and is sometimes pronounced that way). It is sometimes spelled Jeaine.

And, Jeans are a type of pants or trousers made from denim or dungaree cloth. Often the term "jeans" refers to a particular style of trousers, called "blue jeans", with copper-riveted pockets which were invented by Jacob W. Davis in 1871 and patented by Davis and Levi Strauss on May 20, 1873.

OK, Google, what is BlueJeans? Ah, not the pants....

BlueJeans by Verizon is a cloud-based video conferencing service. Verizon acquired BlueJeans in 2020 for $400 million. BlueJeans is a top-rated service for online meetings. It offers high-fidelity audio and video, collaboration features, and enterprise-grade security. BlueJeans offers a free plan - BlueJeans Basic - that lets you meet for as long as you want without a time limit or credit card. You can use the BlueJeans mobile app to attend and host conference calls from an iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Verizon plans to shut down BlueJeans in 2024. 

Wait, wut? Did you say........ shut down??? 

Google: Tom, did I stutter? Let's try again:

Verizon is shutting down BlueJeans, its Zoom competitor it acquired in the early days COVID. They sent out an email to BlueJeans customers that said that “we have made the difficult decision to sunset our suite of BlueJeans products.” BlueJeans’ recently introduced free Basic plan and free trial offerings will be discontinued on August 31st, according to the email. That email doesn’t say how long people on BlueJeans’ paid offerings will have access to the company’s services. Verizon didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

BlueJeans was a huge acquisition for Verizon; when the deal was announced in April 2020, CNBC reported that Verizon was going to pay around $400 million for the company. At the time, video conferencing companies like Zoom and BlueJeans were seeing increased usage during the pandemic, but now that many companies have implemented policies bringing workers back to the office, virtual collaboration apps aren’t quite as hot as they used to be.

OK, like they do in the movies.... A FEW YEARS AGO....

Verizon called me and said, "Tom, we see what you did with Zoom. Would you like to sell BlueJeans? Sure, why not. "OK, we'll make you a partner."  Cool.

One week later: "Tom, you should be a DIRECT partner, so that you don't have to buy through distribution." Cool.

One week later: "Tom, you are actually at TIER 1 partner, and your new margin is 30%." Cool. 

One week later: "Tom, you are actually a TIER 1 ELITE partner, so you can offer the entire portfolio of Verizon (not just BlueJeans) to all of NYDLA | USDLA | NADLA." Cool. 

One week later: "Tom, we are thinking about launching something like BlueJeans Academy, to teach mastery of all things BlueJeans. You run the Distance Learning Association, would you be interested in running BlueJeans Academy, for ALL BlueJeans customers? You would be a perfect fit for this...

You mean something like ??? 

OK, like they do in the movies.... PRESENT DAY......

As I write my Sunday Blog, I reflect on the last two years as a Tier 1 ELITE partner for BlueJeans. I would try to "fit that into" almost every conversation... "well, as a TIER ONE ELITE PARTNER:....blah, blah, blah... In the last year, with spiffs, we were making 50% margin. FIFTY PERCENT. Well, that's just nuts.

In May 2020, when Verizon acquired BlueJeans it was a business-focused video app that first launched in 2011. At the beginning of 2022, Google and Verizon partnered to preload the BlueJeans app on (since-discontinued) Glass Enterprise Edition 2 smart glasses sold by Verizon. More recently, BlueJeans gained a free tier this year, opening the app to many more potential customers and competing with the free consumer-ready services of Google Meet and Zoom. As a Tier 1 ELITE partner, I was TELLING THE WORLD to for free - from ME! And then, upgrade to paid, as necessary, when necessary. Again, upgrade to paid through ME

That said, many people in North America were unaware of BlueJeans until they might have joined a meeting via BlueJeans. Suffice it to say BlueJeans didn’t take off in popularity. Verizon seemed to be happy keeping BlueJeans a secret. Must be nice to have so much damn money. Ok, moving on...

This past week, all of the members of NYDLA | USDLA | NADLA using Verizon’s BlueJeans service were sent an email explaining that the app is being “sunset.” The first phase of that shutdown process is that the free trial and the free “BlueJeans Basic” tier will no longer be available as of August 31, 2023. Business customers of BlueJeans will likely be given a longer period to transition off of the platform.

When pressed, the CFO of Verizon said they shut down its video conferencing service BlueJeans due to a "changing market landscape". BlueJeans was never able to gain the same traction as apps like Zoom and Google Meet. Additionally, BlueJeans' user base reportedly declined as workers returned to the office after working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The REASON why Verizon made us (me?) a TIER 1 ELITE partner was because we should know what we are talking about, for all things "remote". We were (still are) the #1 promoter of Zoom in North America. Whenever I was presenting live, or when I was doing keynotes at events, I would say "just call me". Ahem. 

OK, land the plane, Tom. 
In my career, I have learned that no amount of marketing can offset a bad product. Also this: no matter how good the product, without proper marketing, it will fail. 

I spent the last two years telling the world to and proudly hosting LIVE and hybrid events that were  As I write this blog, I STILL think that the BlueJeans technology, the BlueJeans experience is (ah, was) amazing. HD Video. Dolby Audio. No other platform in the industry had that combination, only BlueJeans. 

I respect Verizon's decision. It makes sense on a business level, on a Wall Street level. I get that. Now, I have to get used to saying that I WAS the Tier 1 ELITE partner for all things BlueJeans. Past tense. It was a great ride. 

OK. No more pity party for me. We have work to do - migrating all of our BlueJeans customers over to Zoom. And now we are going to be very busy telling every business and every school in North America to get from Verizon, since the world seems to (once again) be...

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Ice, Ice, Baby

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

We just signed up to be a Master Agent with  Cool! I'll save that story for next Sunday.

THIS Sunday, let's talk about marketing. As a thank you, as a small but very classy gesture, the folks at sent me the super cool ICE SHAKER (as seen on Shark Tank). First, it is a really good water bottle. 

But here is where it gets interesting. The packaging, the stuff that came inside the bottle, asked me to register. You know, activate my warranty. And, I'm thinking to myself: what warranty? I was trying to think of what could go WRONG with the bottle? Anyway, I took the bait and I clicked on the QR code.

And so begins the email drip marketing parade. I was expecting it, I predicted it. Welcome email #1. Welcome email #2. And, a VIDEO from the founder, Chris. 

But this was different. Right off the bat, the video from Chris said: "Hey Tom!"

Wait, wut? How did he know my name? How did the video have my name - in the welcome video?

I walked back the link to find a company Maverick. I found their website. It says:"At Maverick, we're building a new way to send personalized videos at scale for online retailers."

Yes, Maverick. Yes you did...

I have since played that "Hey Tom!" video many times. If one looks real close, it seems that they have spliced in a "Hey Tom!" with the rest of the generic welcome video. Unless you really look super close, you cannot tell. Now, I am not sure exactly how this sorcery is done, but it caught MY attention for sure. As I write this Sunday Blog, I am thinking to myself "Self, did Chris record everyone's name, creating like a library of names? Or is this some form of AI wizardry? Did they get my name from the warranty registry, and did AI make this personalized video for the "Hey Tom!" intro? 

I need this marketing automation technology for my stuff. I need Maverick for my products, my services. I'll be reaching out to the CEO of Maverick. I'll be asking them if they have any type of reseller program, or agent program, or VAR program. I can sell this marketing technology stuff, big time. The personalized video grabbed me and it shook me - kinda like an Ice Shaker bottle. (sorry...had to...).

Selling is not Marketing. People confuse the two all the time. 

Marketing is the process of getting people interested in a company's product or service. It includes activities such as advertising, selling, and delivering products to consumers or other businesses. Marketing also involves market research, analysis, and understanding the interests of the ideal customer. 

The purpose of marketing is to generate revenue for a brand, company, or organization. Marketing professionals and teams achieve this through strategic digital activities that drive traffic, qualified leads, and sales. Hello Maverick. 

Marketing pertains to all aspects of a business, including product development, distribution methods, sales, and advertising.

Selling is a transaction where money is exchanged for a good or service. It also refers to the process of persuading a person or organization to buy something. During a sales negotiation, the seller attempts to convince the buyer on the benefits of their offer. If the buyer wishes to strike a deal, they will give the seller an agreed upon amount of money. 

Selling is about generating sales by maximizing sales and is a money oriented approach. In marketing, emphasis is given on the wants of the consumer. Whereas in selling, emphasis is on the company's products. 

In my world, the marketing guy (or gal) tees up the ball - and the sales guy (or gal) hits the ball. Marketing gets the eyeballs, sales does the right thing with those eyeballs. 

Ok, so I am now a fan (like Mark Cuban is...) of the Ice Shaker. And, I definitely think that the folks at Lumen are a classy bunch for sending me one. But I am really impressed with this marketing technology. 

Expert Level: what if I use such marketing automation technology as we march across North America, telling the world to ??? 

Yeah, that would really be something, right? 
Hey Lumen! Look what you just did!!!