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





Sunday, October 6, 2019

Bowled over by the software

Yesterday, the Capone clan went bowling in Boonton New Jersey. My two sons, and my new daughter-in-law (hence the Tinkerbell). 

It was fun to think about all the bowling birthday parties we had at Boonton Lanes over the years. There was a young family next to us, using the "bumpers" to block off the gutter balls. Yeah, the memories were flowing. And then on the scoring screen we noticed something: the software on the Brunswick automated scoring system was from 1994. 

Almost 25 years, and they are still running the same software.

It’s almost impossible to trace the rise of bowling without documenting the rise of the Brunswick company. 


From the beginning, Bowling and Brunswick have shared the same path. Founder John Moses Brunswick played an integral part in the birth of the game by building a company dedicated to taking games like billiards and bowling out of fancy parlors and into the public arena. Moses Bensinger (married to Eleanora Brunswick, daughter of John Moses Brunswick) had a vision for the modern game of bowling. He standardized rules for the game and organized the first American Bowling Congress in 1895, which held the first significant bowling tournament in 1902. The ABC became a prominent fixture in competitive, professional bowling, and is responsible for developing the professional game and global appeal of the sport as it is known today.
Brunswick has contributed directly to the global growth of bowling by opening the first bowling center in Moscow in 1976. It has also established a technological and manufacturing presence that reaches around the globe – from its state-of-the-art research and development facilities in Muskegon, Michigan, to its pinsetter manufacturing plant in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, to its sales and support resources in Hong Kong. 

During the past century, Brunswick’s passion for the game has never wavered. Brunswick has always been dedicated to improving both the game and the experience around it. Brunswick worked to grow bowling on a global scale and has helped to create the $10 billion industry that it is today.
Again, we noticed that the Brunswick software running the automatic scoring system was from 1994. I almost did not write a blog today, because I really had nothing to write about. 

My son Tommy said: why not blog about the software being from way back in 1994! 

You can say "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" as the topic. 


So here's my Sunday blog. I would have felt like a Turkey if I did not blog today, but I was split over this. It's not my best blog, so I don't expect you to be bowled over - it's not in a league of it's own. No need to frame it, but you can pin this to your browers and share it. 

I want a rematch



Sunday, September 29, 2019

Size does matter

When talking about propellers, size does matter.

A propeller is a type of fan that transmits power by converting rotational motion into thrust. A pressure difference is produced between the forward and rear surfaces of the airfoil shaped blades, and a fluid (such as air or water) is accelerated by the pressure difference. Propeller dynamics, like those of aircraft wings can be modelled by Bernoulli's principle and Newton's third law.

OK!  Got it!  So, what is Propelify?

The Propelify Innovation Festival is coming to Pier A Park in Hoboken, NJ on October 3rd. 

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Tech Council, the state's largest technology trade organization, appointed Aaron Price as its new CEO - and also acquired Propelify - one of the largest communities of entrepreneurs and innovators and the producer of the Propelify Innovation Festival.

Aaron Price started Propelify with the inaugural Innovation Festival in 2016 and a mission to "inspire the tech and innovation community and those who take action - who propel." Since its launch the Festival has grown into one of the world's largest tech events, with 8,000+ entrepreneurs, influencers and policy makers.

Propelify was inspired by Aaron's other focus, the award winning NJ Tech Meetup, the state's largest entrepreneurial community with over 7,000 members. Aaron has served as the tech community expert for NJ Governor Phil Murphy, The White House (Obama Administration), the NJ Economic Development Authority, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal.

The New Jersey Tech Council (www.njtc.org) provides business development, education, networking and advocacy for the region's technology businesses. By collectively representing tech, life science and tech-related companies and organizations the Tech Council has the unique ability to offer opportunities to learn, network and grow - to nurture the tech and STEM talent pipeline critical to growth and to provide access to financing sources.

So NJTC aquired Propelify, and the NJTC gets Aaron Price as their new CEO in the process. Brilliant.

Now let's make it even better.



NYDLA.org members attend Propelify for free ($99 savings) and go home with $1000+ in "swag" from our vendors and sponsors. Just fill our the form on NYDLA.org and you're all set.



NYDLA and NJTC have similar missions - to support tech, innovation, and entrepreneurial ecosystems across the state and region. I really don't know who invented the propeller. It might have been Archimedes. Maybe it was Leonardo da Vinci. Could have been the Egyptians. But we DO know who invented Propelify.

In business, there are many factors to consider when contemplating your next move. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg once received advice from Eric Schmidt in 2001, when he was Google's CEO: "If you are offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don't ask what seat. You just get on."

In that spirit, when someone offers you a free ticket to Propelify, you go.

I'll see you at Pier A Park this Thursday - let's Propel!








Sunday, September 22, 2019

An eventful week




Was your week eventful? Thursday the NYDLA attended an event in NYC with our friends at Intrado. I had the privilege of presenting to the room - while streaming LIVE to the world. 

It struck me that just a few years ago, you would have to be a Fortune company to communicate and collaborate with the world. Today, via technologies powered by Intrado and others, we sometimes take global collaboration and real-time communication for granted.

Friday was another event - this time on the INTREPID

Our first presenter was Rhonda Vetere, Global CIO/CTO, Two Time Author and Triathlete.


Rhonda's body of work is amazing, celebrating women who are breaking down barriers and defining the future of STEM. Rhonda shared stories how she and her team navigate the volatile tech industry. She spoke of her passion for sport and how she takes her grit to the road, including insight from a recent trip to the Serengeti where she participated in the inaugural Serengeti Girls Run event. Rhonda then ran 55 miles over the course of three days for a female empowerment fundraiser - the first women-only run of its kind. A passionate leader, Rhonda has worked in global executive positions of Estee Lauder, AIG, HP, Barclays / Lehman Brothers, Bank One, JP Morgan Chase, CompuServe, UUNET, MCI and Worldcom - managing teams of more than 20,000 people.


Rhonda says -The best way to make your mark is to get your hands dirty. 

Her book Grit & Grind uses real-life stories of how we all face obstacles as we wind our way through life. Whether you're seeking success at work, creating a lasting relationship, or just trying to get "unstuck" in some area of your life, the quickest way to get what you want is to dive into the mess and learn your way through it. Her book offers simple but elegant ways to face anything that comes your way. Rhonda knows firsthand that there's no such thing as a perfect, struggle-free life. She said: "It's not the challenges you face, but how you face them that matters." 

When you're not afraid of getting your hands dirty, nothing can stop you from achieving the life you desire. Members of NYDLA receive her book for free when they join our global communty.

Our keynote speaker was Major General Brett Williams, USAF (Ret.)


He described his experiences transitioning from the world of flying operations into leading teams of Cyber and IT professionals. He compared and contrasted his experiences in DoD to what he experienced in the past five years in the private sector. Brett provided an overview of today's threat with specific emphasis on the nation state threat. He had strong opinions of why, at an executive level, we are challenged to defend today's networks and how moving to the cloud offers some clear advantages with regards to security. 

And then, we enjoyed a VIP tour of the INTREPID with Sebastian, Museum Educator.

Sebastian made the INTREPID come alive. His words, retelling the history of the ship, from its first days of service, to WWII to Vietnam, to recovering NASA space capsules. And now, as the SEA, AIR & SPACE MUSEUM.


While taking a VIP tour on the INTREPID, I learned of how many people of color were true heroes, how many times they saved the entire ship. And because they were people of color, they were never honored or even recognized until many years later. 

Each branch of the Armed Forces has historically had different policies regarding racial segregation. Although Executive Order 9981 officially ended segregation in the Armed Forces in 1948, following World War II, some forms of racial segregation continued until after the Korean War. I have been thinking about this ever since I left the ship. How (as a person of color) it must have felt to fight for, to put your life on the line for a country that still had active racial segregation.

On October 29, 1944, a kamikaze smashed into a gun tub on INTREPID's port side. A gun crew of African American sailors, who usually served as cooks or waiters in the officer's mess, courageously fired at the airplane as it crashed into their position. Ten men lost their lives. 

Yes, this was an eventful week. We met people live, and we met people virtually. We shook people's hands, and we "shook hands" with people via video, 12 time zones away. 

And we met people - true heroes - via their life stories being retold by Sebastian, from 74 years, 10 months and 25 days ago. 

Life is a series of moments and events, some live, some virtual, some retold via stories of the past. 

I just finished reading Rhonda's book - it's one of those books that you cannot put down once you start reading. Here's to living an extraordinary life - an INTREPID life.