Sunday, May 31, 2020

How smart is your phone?

In 2020, the number of smartphone users in the world is 3.5 Billion, which translates to 45.04% of the world's population owning a smartphone. In total, the number of people that own a smart and feature phone is 4.78 Billion, making up 61.51% of the world's population.

According to GSMA real-time intelligence data, today there are 5.28 Billion people that have a mobile device in the world. This means that 67.95% of the world's population has a mobile device. Back in 2017, the number of people with mobile devices was only 53% and it is predicted that by 2023 the number of people with a mobile device will increase to 7.33 Billion.

I started selling "Car Phones" for NYNEX in the early 80's. Back in the day, I thought that "Cellular Phones" were going to be a big deal - a big enough deal to divert my attention from going to medical school, or even from doing stuff with NASA. Hat Tip to my sister JoAnn for getting me my pilot's license. Yeah, I was one of the first people in the USA to sell cellular phones and service - to Doctors! If you don't GO to medical school, you can always "School the Doctors" right? 

But this SMARTPHONE thing - this might be the story of the century. If there were no smartphones, there would be no Uber, no Twitter, probably no Facebook. Probably no podcasts, video or otherwise. If it were not for smartphones, there would probably be no "Big Four" technology companies Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. And let's not forget Zoom - which has now become a verb. 

I understand that Donald Trump, our POTUS uses Twitter on his smartphone, I'll have to fact-check that, it could be fake news.

Anyway: today, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to be 275.66 million. That means that there are 275 million volunteer TV news reporters in the USA and growing. Today because of coronavirus, authorities everywhere are using smartphones to track the the movement of people, collecting anonymized data to study the movement of people more generally. 

As I write this blog, I am watching (on an iPad) a scene of helicopters and sirens racing around Los Angeles trying to cope with what's been an awful day for that city in an awful week for this country. 

Yesterday, I watched (on my smartphone) the launch LIVE of the SpaceX spacecraft carrying two NASA astronauts - marking the first time humans have traveled into Earth's orbit from US soil in nearly a decade. 

Born in 1960, our first color TV had three major channels when I was growing up in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. And "news" was in real-time. You either were home to catch Walter Cronkite on live TV, or you missed it. There was no VCR, and there certainly was no YouTube. There was no Twitter, but there was a radio in the kitchen. My first memory was watching my mother react to hearing that JFK was assassinated. I can describe that kitchen radio today, in vivid detail. I was three years old.

I don't know if this is true, but today, on this last day of May 2020, the "smartphone" might become the one technology that has/will change the world forever. Banking. Education. News. Commerce. Communication. Collaboration. 

Technology changes everything. But when we look back at the history of our country, I think that having smartphones in the hands of pretty much every living adult in the USA will be credited for what we ultimately become as a nation - good or bad.

Let's hope that (all of us) start using our hand-held superpowers for good and not evil.











Sunday, May 24, 2020

Speed, Quality, Cost



I am sure that you have seen or heard of the saying "Speed, Quality or Cost, pick any two."  I always smile when I come across that quote or meme. 

If you want it fast with high quality, it will be expensive.

If you want it cheap and fast, it will be low quality.

If you want it to be of high quality and cheap, it will not be delivered fast.

It is understood that people might take a few minutes to try to think of a scenario where the speed, quality, cost triangle does not apply. But pretty quick, most people will just say to themselves, "yeah, that's true." Pick any two.


Tomorrow is Memorial Day here in the USA. It originally was a day to honor and celebrate those who died in the Civil War (1861 - 1865). Today, it is a day to honor anyone who died while in service of the United States military. Interesting, it was not until 1967 that we officially named it Memorial Day.

In 2000, Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance, which asks Americans to pause for one minute at 3:00 pm in an act of national unity. That time was chosen because that was the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.

You cannot have freedoms without sacrifice. 

But you cannot make a sacrifice for another, without putting the needs of others ahead of your own. And without gratitude for the sacrifice of others, there can be no freedoms in society.


As you pause for one minute at 3:00 pm tomorrow in a act of national unity, you shall be doing so during a national pandemic. At that time, there may be 100,000 who have died due to COVID-19 here in the USA. 

We are currently fighting a different kind of enemy. Hopefully (all of us) can think about what it truly means to a hero, a patriot and a citizen of the United States of America. 

Freedom, Sacrifice, Gratitude. 

Indeed, we must find a way to have all three at the same time, for without all three in harmony and in balance, none of the three can exist alone.


"Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." – Adlai Stevenson

"I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism."– Bob Riley

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."– Joseph Campbell

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived."– George S. Patton

"My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." – John F. Kennedy


"Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering." – Theodore Roosevelt






Sunday, May 17, 2020

Alice's (Cloud) Restaurant

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant...
Excepting Alice

If you are old like me, you know this classic song.

Alice's Restaurant Massacree is commonly known as Alice's Restaurant, a satirical talking blues song by singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie, released as the title track to his 1967 album Alice's Restaurant. The song is a deadpan protest against the Vietnam War draft, in the form of a comically exaggerated but true story from Guthrie's own life.

We would play this song every year, at Thanksgiving, for as long as I can remember. Last year when I Googled it to play it, I came across Alice's Kids.

One thing led to another and next thing you know, I'm chatting live with Ron Fitzsimmons, founder of Alice's Kids. Next thing you know, Alice's Kids becomes the official charity of the NYDLA.org

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant...

A few years ago, during a snowstorm, I stumbled across a podcast of Lee Cockerell (of Hilton, Marriott and The Disney Company fame). I said to myself "Wow, this guy would make a great keynote for NYED-LA." One thing led to another and next thing you know, I'm connected with Lee Cockerell on LinkedIn.

I said in LinkedIn chat: Lee, I met you via David Burkus. You are amazing, I would love to add you to the TALENT pages of the NYDLA.org. You have the gift to get the point out to the millenials. Can we talk one day soon?

Lee types back to me in LinkedIn chat: "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 to call me, here is my cell..."

Next thing you know, I'm buying a plane ticket to Orlando. Next thing you know, we are building out www.CockerellAcademy.com. Next thing you know, Lee's grandson needs a place to stay in New Jersey for the summer, during his college internship. I offered up our vacant 2nd floor, no charge. Next thing you know my wife is in her glory as she once again has "a baby" in the house to pamper and spoil for the summer. A 6'2" baby, a Captain America stunt double. (We were empty nesters at that time, both of our boys moved out). Point: Lee's grandson is an AMAZING human, like straight out of central casting at Disney.

Next thing you know we meet Lee's son Dan Cockerell, as he comes to visit HIS son. Next thing you know, we have TWO Cockerells on the talent page of NYDLA.org

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant...

Last month I saw a tweet from Tom Peters that caught my eye. Yeah, THAT Tom Peters. I must be getting slow in my old age, but it took me a week or two to connect with Tom. What a body of work. I wonder if we could do a NYDLAcast.com with Tom Peters? I wonder if we could promote his new book, to our global community? What about promoting www.TomPetersAcademy.com? (Point: we are recording a video podcast with Tom Peters on 5/19).

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant...



Want to talk about the Elephant in the room?

Yes, our lives have changed dramatically over the past few months. Many of us are holding onto the belief that soon, everything will return to normal. People have lost money. Industries have been decimated. And - new industries have been flourishing due to unexpected demand. The technology sector in particular has seen massive profit spikes. As people are staying home, they're using new devices and programs to communicate, collaborate and live.

Zoom has become "a verb" as it gained 318% in just over a week in the middle of the crisis. Indoor cycle and fitness software producer Peloton, which had been struggling before the crisis, gained 32% in less than a week. Work messaging app Slack gained 33% in less than a week, after it's been lagging behind in performance for a year.

COVID-19 changed our lives, but our lives were already in a state of flux. It was just last year that we were talking about Climate Change and we were all worried about AI (Artificial Intelligence) totally disrupting our world. AI robots were supposed to take our jobs, remember? Not a virus.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant...

Remote Work has become Work. Distance Education has become Education. Telemedicine has become Medicine. And so on. The world was already changing, COVID-19 just made the future (our future) arrive early. And, our future showed up with a BANG. 

OK Tom, land the plane - tie it all together for us!

You can get anything you want, at Alice's (Cloud) Restaurant... DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR IN MINUTES!

Alice's Restaurant was originally recorded in 1967. On CBS This Morning on Thanksgiving 2016, Arlo Guthrie said: "It's not an anti-war song, it's an anti-stupid song. Because you can't run a country that way."

Anti-Stupid. 

I love that. My friend Lee Cockerell has a saying: "If you have flies in your kitchen, you must like flies."

Today, with the power of the cloud - if you are stupid, you must like being stupid. BUT you don't have to REMAIN stupid. And you certainly do not have to do it alone. We are all in this together. There are tough times in America today.

But none of us is as smart as all of us. You don't get extra points for going solo. Ask for help, get the help you need - and pay it forward.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's (Cloud) Restaurant... 


Join the NYDLA.org and THRIVE in the clouds











Sunday, May 3, 2020

Muscles, Brains and Heart

Wow. It feels like it was only a few months ago that 5,000+ gathered live at Javits Center in NYC for the AI Summit. So many smart people in one place, all discussing how AI (Artificial Intelligence) was going to change the world, and how AI (Robots) were going to make us all unemployed.

Well, not all of us would be unemployed, but enough to cause global chaos and economic upheaval.

It feels like it was only a few months ago, because it was only a few months ago. In December of 2019, our big fear was from technology taking our jobs. Not biology.

The only constant in life is change.
It is a good time to remind yourself that 2020 - 1776 = 244

It  has only been 244 years since Congress renamed the nation "United States of America" which replaced the term "United Colonies," which had been in general use.

In less than 244 years, we went from worrying about fighting the British to fighting AI Robots to fighting a Virus.

The British were once our enemy. Today we are allies. 

Just a few months ago, many felt that Technology and AI was the enemy. Today, we are relying on Science and Technology to save us.

NYDLA.org "NYED-LA" has changed - a lot. In 1983 we were all about Distance Learning. And as the world changed, we morphed into DIGITAL Learning. And now after 37 years, we are just DIGITAL LIVING. I only got involved in running NYDLA back in 2012, but what a ride the past 8 years have been.

Change is the only constant in life. NYDLA was born as a source of information for professional development. It was created to serve corporate training, teaching, training, learning and performance professionals. NYDLA was a "go-to" resource for innovative global learning and development news, trends, research and statistics, best practices, new products, services and technologies.

Basically, NYDLA was a glorified newsletter in 1983, and sounds like it was boring as hell.

Well, there is nothing boring about our world today. Technology will play an oversized role in learning in our future - and our future is NOW. But that role shall also be fulfilled by humans. The future is all about teachers, trainers, coaches, peers, families, and communities at large working for a common cause. The "Digital Divide" which refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology must go the way of buggy whips.

Together, we will need to evolve from us learning about technology to technology learning about us.

Learning in the future will be about humans becoming more human, while technology will assist. In the words of London School of Economics Professor Minouche Shafik: "In the past, jobs were about muscles; now they're about brains; but in the future, jobs will be about the heart."

Transformative Change happens when there is a catalyst and a crisis. A crucible. A time of profound trial at the end of which something new and much better emerges. The term crucible comes from a vessel used by medieval alchemists that withstand extreme heat to turn base metals into gold.

Today, COVID-19 is our crucible. 

The severe trials of the pandemic have revealed fundamental weaknesses in our society - many of which we knew about but were content to ignore. COVID-19 has forced our hand. The pandemic has made the future happen in months, not years. The future we knew was coming, has simply arrived early. We now have an opportunity to change because we have to, we have no choice but to embrace change. If we must change, let it be transformative and good for all. 

244 years happened in the blink of an eye. An entire nation (ours) was born out of conflict, stress, sacrifice and loss. What can help us today is for all of us to learn from the past, and - for all of us to draw on the collective wisdom of the past.

The British were once our enemy, now we are allies. 

Now, today: Science and Technology are our allies, and AI is not the enemy. 

Our nation was born only 244 years ago. Let's embrace the transformative change that has been thrust upon us, and ALL OF US shall make our nation better.








Sunday, April 26, 2020

What's the gravity of the situation?

I've got some nerd in me.

There are four fundamental forces in the physical world: electromagnetism, strong force, weak force, and gravity. It's effects on big objects, such as planets or stars, are relatively easy to see, but things get complicated when one tries to understand gravity in the small world of elementary particles.

So basically, the smartest people on the planet still don't know why I just broke my favorite coffee cup. And, they also don't know where my wife keeps the broom and dustpan.

I bring up gravity (get the pun?) because I think it is the scientific principle that 99.999% of the people on the planet would agree actually exists - even if they cannot explain it. Only the most obtuse person would say that gravity does not exist. And if you ever do find such a person, ask them to hold a bowling ball for an hour.

For centuries, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit was said to be the average, normal body temperature. It's not. More recently, researchers have known that normal body temperature is actually lower than 98.6 and can vary by gender, size, age, time of day and other factors. So, today most healthcare providers consider a fever to be 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

A German physician came up with 98.6 Fahrenheit as "average" human temperature in the 1800s. And it stuck. Until it got unstuck.

In science and math, there are some things we KNOW to be true. And then there are some things that we know to be true - but we still don't fully understand. We know the coffee cup will hit the ground if we knock it off the table with our elbow. But we don't exactly know WHY. It will be hard to find someone who will predict that the coffee cup will hover in midair and not fall to the ground.

OK, let's do Pandemics. For 100 years:

  1. Phase 1 is the period during which no animal viruses are reported to cause infection in humans.
  2. Phase 2 is the first level of threat wherein a virus is confirmed to have jumped from animal to humans. 
  3. Phase 3 is when sporadic cases or small clusters of disease are confirmed, but human-to-human transmission has not occured.
  4. Phase 4 is the point where human-to-human transmission has caused a community-wide outbreak.
  5. Phase 5 is when human-to-human transmission of the virus has caused spread of the disease to at least two countries.
  6. Phase 6 is the point at which the disease is declared a pandemic, having spread to at least one other country.
Got it? OK, now forget all that. 

As of February of this year, the WHO (World Health Organization) said there is no official category for a pandemic. The 6 phases listed above are no longer valid. Just like 98.6 is no longer normal, we don't exactly know how to define a pandemic. The smartest people in the world are not exactly sure when an epidemic becomes a pandemic. 

Where are you going with this Tom?

There is a time and a place to embrace science, to embrace truth, and to live our lives in a way that incorporates science into our behavior. We turn to the experts: scientists, doctors, nurses, public health specialists, and the wide range of medical professionals whom we trust. We all want answers. We want guidance on how to keep ourselves and our families safe. We want to understand how to combat COVID-19: to beat it together, and to beat it quickly. 

Land the plane, Tommy..... bring it home for us......

We don't know exactly WHY the coffee cup falls to the floor, but we are certain it will fall. Just because science cannot exactly explain GRAVITY does not mean we don't believe gravity exists. A lay person is not qualified to compare, contrast or define the general theory of relativity or Newton's law of universal gravitation. 

Just because we don't fully understand ALL of it, does not mean as a global community we should not fully embrace the parts that we DO understand. When fighting a pandemic, do not say "we are not certain, we are not sure, we don't know" because in the world of science, we never know for sure. That is the beauty of science.  

Normal body temperature is no longer exactly 98.6 degrees. The WHO says the 6 Phases of a pandemic is no longer useful or accurate. We still don't know EXACTLY how gravity works, but we know the coffee cup will fall. Every time. 

Science and medicine will get us through this pandemic - and the next one. Yes, there will be another one, just as there were pandemics in the past. 

Don't let the weakness of human nature slow down the healing process. Allow the experts: the scientists, doctors, nurses, public health specialists, and the wide range of medical professionals to do their jobs. We must let the smartest people on the planet to do their jobs - for all of us. We must support them. We must listen to the experts, and take their advice - even if their advice changes from time to time. That's how science works.

Now is not the time for "opinions" from emotional, well-intentioned but ill-informed people. I get it, we are all worried, we are all scared. But we must be mentally AND physically strong, and we must trust the experts. The experts and the scientists are not the enemy, the virus is the enemy. 

One day in the future, I am sure we shall indeed fully understand gravity. And our full understanding gravity will certainly change our global society and our world forever.

But for now, until we DO know exactly how gravity actually works - you should move that coffee cup away from the edge of the table.








Sunday, April 19, 2020

What if Simon Sneezed?

As of this morning, Simon Sinek's September 2009 TEDx Puget Sound "TED Talk" has 49,512,510 views. TEDx was created in the spirit of TED's mission, "ideas worth spreading." It supports organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community.

There is a 99% chance that you have seen a TED.com talk. There is a much lesser chance that you know that TED Talks / TED Conferences LLC (Technology, Entertainment, Design) were conceived in 1984 but they were financially unsuccessful. It took six years for the second conference to be organized. 

What if the folks at TED never tried again, after their initial failure?

Simon's September 2009 TEDx talk - starting with the golden circle and the question: "Why?" became one of the most watched TED Talks of all time. 

When I came across Simon's TED Talk it was already a massive hit. When I learned that Simon was doing a book signing in NYC in July of 2011, I put my two sons into the car and we went to meet Simon.

What if Simon's 2009 TEDx Talk did not go so well? 

What if Simon had a cold that day, or what if Simon just was not on his "A Game" in Puget Sound? That famous TED Talk might have only been really, really good - not freaking AMAZING. Ah, but it WAS AMAZING. Simon Sinek caught lightning in a bottle in 2009. It happened because it was supposed to happen - because IT HAPPENED.

In 2011 I became part of the START WITH WHY movement. 

Before that, I was running my own telecom and technology company (technically, I still do). I was attending the NYDLA (Distance Learning) events for years, like a good salesman should. These were the folks who were buying the stuff I was selling, so this was a target rich environment for sales. But because of the recession, nonprofits like NYDLA were suffering. NYDLA was broke, and the association was on life support. The leadership of NYDLA basically said: we're out of money and we are shutting it all down. Unless someone wants to take it over.

Because I was evangelizing Simon's START WITH WHY movement, I gave a "WHY" presentation at Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey. One thing led to another, and I told the folks at Rutgers about NYDLA and how I was thinking about "taking over" the defunct NYDLA. Rutgers became our first NYDLA sponsor, and with one stroke of the pen, NYDLA had 500,000+ new members - the living alumni of Rutgers. And then, we met all of the businesses that "did business" with Rutgers.

What if I never went to Rutgers that day? Well for one, there would be no NYDLA today. It happened because it was supposed to happen - because IT HAPPENED.

When my son was attending Quinnipiac University School of Business, I made it a point to get to know his professors (helicopter parenting, guilty). One thing led to another, and I was invited to speak to one of my son's IT/MIS classes. From that, I was invited by the Dean of the School of Business to "present" to all of the graduating High School students living in Connecticut. I had to wake up at 4:00 am on a Saturday to drive up to Quinnipiac from New Jersey to make that presentation. I almost talked myself out of going that day. Little did I know that my presentation was going to be professionally recorded by a local TV station, and that it would go viral.

What if I never went to Quinnipiac that morning? It happened because it was supposed to happen - because IT HAPPENED.

Ever hear of this thing called Zoom? 

Eric Yuan, a former Cisco Webex engineer and executive founded Zoom in 2001, and launched its software in 2013. Zoom's aggressive revenue growth and ease-of-use and reliability of its software resulted in a $1 billion valuation in 2017. Approximately one year ago to the date of this blog post, the company went public. Zoom was valued at $16 billion by the end of its first day of trading. Again, Eric Yuan rose to Vice President of Cisco Webex, but after realizing that customers were not happy with the product, he left in 2011 to start Zoom.

What if the Cisco Webex customers were just "a little more happy" back in 2011 - would Eric have felt the need to leave his Vice President position and start Zoom? It happened because it was supposed to happen - because IT HAPPENED.

The NYDLA went from "can't pay their website bill" to servicing 300+ of the Fortune 1000 and 46% of the Schools of Business, including the alumni of all 8 Ivy League Schools. Similar to Zoom, there is a free version and a paid version of NYDLA.

And today, NYDLA is www.PoweredByZoom.us as all members receive the paid version of Zoom (Zoom Pro) for free. It's "baked in" and is a value-added member benefit of our paid membership fee.

As of this blog post, COVID-19 is ravaging our country, and the entire world. 2,343,293 total cases worldwide. 161,330 deaths. The entire US economy is shut down, as "working from home" is the new normal. The pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, leading to near-total closures of schools, universities and colleges. The pandemic has led to severe global socioeconomic disruption, the postponement or cancellation of sporting, religious, political and cultural events. There are widespread shortages of supplies exacerbated by panic buying. Some of us are waking up this morning and asking ourselves: why is this pandemic happening? Why is this happening to me, and to my family? 

Today, the NYDLA services the 55M+ people who live, learn, work and play in the "New York Megalopolis". The 14 states that make up the Northeast of the USA. When and where we can help people to get through the coronavirus pandemic, we do so - at no charge. We have gone from "we are shutting down" all operations in 2010 to becoming a source of knowledge, technology and talent to assist and support anyone who needs help.

We (NYDLA) have gone from a bankrupt trade association in 2010 to a global community servicing millions of like-minded people who are living, learning, working and playing in the new cloud economy. 

I have learned many things in the past ten years. As the TV commercial says: "We know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two." Personally I did not have global pandemic on my list of things to experience in my lifetime. But I also would not have predicted working with Simon Sinek, or Eric Yuan or taking over the NYDLA or now - being on the front lines of helping people in dealing with COVID-19 on a global basis.

I've had the honor to work with many amazingly successful people in my lifetime. Celebrities, professional athletes, people from the world of entertainment. But the most important lesson that I have learned from working with any and all of them is simply this: 

It's people first, then money, then things. 

When and where the NYDLA community can help you, your family, your employees or your business to get through this pandemic, we shall do so. No charge. 

Be safe.

Thomas A. Capone
Chairman, CEO
NYDLA.org


On December 20, 2011, Quinnipiac University hosted the
E-Commerce Entrepreneurship Experiential Event
for high school students in Connecticut.




Sunday, April 12, 2020

People first, then money, then things.

Thomas Jeffrey Hanks began performing with the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in 1977, and later moved to New York City. He starred in the television sitcom Bosom Buddies, but later became far more known when he starred in the Ron Howard film Splash.

Last night my wife and I watched "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" on Amazon. It was $2.99 to rent, so what the heck. The secret to life is a happy wife, right? It was not going to be my first choice.

Lloyd Vogel is an investigative journalist who receives an assignment to profile Fred Rogers, aka Mister Rogers. He approaches the interview with skepticism, as he finds it hard to believe that anyone can have such a good nature. But Roger's empathy, kindness and decency soon chips away at Vogel's jaded outlook on life, forcing the reporter to reconcile with his own painful past.

Spoiler Alert: There is a scene in the movie where Vogel and Rogers are on a crowded subway in NYC. Slowly everyone on the subway recognizes Mister Rogers, and the entire subway breaks out into song - the Mister Rogers theme song.

Children. Old people. Police Officers. Construction Workers. Wall Street workers, students, homeless people. Every. Single. Person. Everyone in the subway car - all of them - proudly singing the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood lyrics.

After the movie ended, I just sat there and reflected. I tried to remember all of the Tom Hanks movies, without the aid of Google. And then I thought about the roles. From Josh Baskin to Joe Banks to Forrest Gump to Jim Lovell to Sheriff Woody. From Captain Richard Phillips to Walt Disney to Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.

To Fred Rogers.

Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson are feeling better after being treated for coronavirus. They were in Australia for pre-production work on a film about singer Elvis Presley. Hanks is set to play Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker.

Many years ago, I met Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at a Birthday Party for Senator Ted Kennedy at the St. Regis in NYC. I sat at a table with Tom and his wife Rita, the comedian and actor Chevy Chase, Lauren Bacall, John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. FYI, the "Birthday Party" was really a fundraiser, so I was invited as long as I brought my checkbook along as my "plus one" guest. Basically anyone with security clearance (and a check) could attend the party.

What I remember the most about that night was how warm and open Tom Hanks was. He asked me "What do you do?" and I said I was the head of talent at Disney. Then I said, "Ha, no, just kidding, I sell cellular phones, since 1983." Well, Tom was fascinated and we chatted it up for an hour. And I made a sale.

Chevy Chase was aloof. John F. Kennedy Jr. was shy. But Tom Hanks was so real, so genuine, so human.

There is another scene in the movie where Fred Rogers says to Lloyd Vogel that "the most important thing in the world (at that moment) was him speaking with Lloyd Vogel on the telephone."

Last night, Tom Hanks hosted a Made-From-Home Edition of SNL.

I was reflecting how our view of heroes might change, pre and post COVID-19. Will we still worship people who score goals, or touchdowns, or hit 3-pointers, or home runs, or people who can sing or dance or act? Will we still go "gaga" over Lady Gaga?

What (and who) will be important to us - post coronavirus?

Tom Hanks said during his coronavirus recovery: "Thank you so much to all the helpers. The real heroes in our lives are the helpers."

I hope that we indeed change who we worship as heroes, don't you?

People first, then money, then things.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, 
my mother would say to me - Look for the helpers. You will always
find people who are helping." - Fred Rogers