Sunday, March 19, 2023

FDU won? That's MADNESS!!!

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The NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, branded NCAA March Madness - or now just MARCH MADNESS is a single-elimination tournament played each spring in the USA, currently featuring 68 college basketball teams.

It has become extremely common in popular culture to predict the outcomes of each game, even among non-sports fans. It is estimated that up to 50 million Americans participate in a bracket pool contest every year. 

From the New York Times: "No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, the shortest team in men's college basketball, took down top-seeded PURDUE and its magisterial 7-foot-4 big man Zach Edey on Friday, delivering a shocking NCAA tournament upset that epitomized the lore of the March Madness underdog."

And so, this Sunday Blog is all about......


An underdog is a person or group in a competition usually in sports and creative works, who is largely expected to lose. The party, team, or individual expected to win is called the favorite or top dog. In the case where the underdog wins, the outcome is an upset.

Rooting for the little guy is the American way. It's Horatio Alger and Rocky Balboa and the Miracle on Ice. You can Google: The Underdog Concept in Sports. 

Researchers have found evidence for a phenomenon called the "favorite-long-shot bias" at the horse track. In other words, bettors throw money at the underdogs and underbidding the favorites. There is also a bias labeled the "availability heuristic" where we make judgments about probability based on whatever data spring most easily comes to mind. The examples you remember are the ones that influence your beliefs. If you just watched a documentary about 9/11 you might think you're more likely to die in a terrorist attack than in a car accident. Well, you are not. 

Consider all the underdogs in our culture - from the Bible, from literature, and from every sports movie ever made. It's no accident that we Remember the Titans

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

Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile.  Which wireless carrier is the underdog?

Zoom, BlueJeans, Webex, Adobe, GoTo, Teams. Meet. Which conferencing product is the underdog?

Researchers have found plenty of support for what seems like an obvious notion: In sports, we're drawn to a winner. Other factors - like where you live and who your friends are - can influence your choice of a favorite team. (Why else would you root for the Chicago Cubs?) 

And so, it is not BlueJeans, but BlueJeans by Verizon. It is not Teams, but Microsoft Teams. Not Meet but Google Meet. Why? Because Verizon is a Fortune 23 company and Microsoft is Fortune 21. Please don't confuse them with being an underdog, thank you very much. I have heard that AT&T is 13th on the Fortune 500 rankings, with revenues of $168 billion. Hey AT&T, what's up - no conferencing product? Hey Google, welcome to the party! 

We just had the Oscars. Underdogs won. Movies and actors that were not supposed to win - did so. And, with all the feels. Most of us have seen the pic of Harrison Ford and Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan hugging - it was way more than just a celebration of one movie's victory. It was an Underdog story. 

Speaking of Harrison Ford - ever hear of Star Wars? Underdog, big time. That movie almost never made it. It had an original budget of $11M and went $3M over budget due to multiple delays. The studio came ever so close to shutting it down. No Star Wars, no Harrison Ford. And I guess, no Mandalorian either. 

And so whether it is movies, or basketball games or conferencing products or smartphones or computers or......(the list is long) why do we buy what we buy? Are we making decisions with our heads or with our hearts? I went to PURDUE. Yeah but I live around 7 miles north of I have presented there many times. Ah yes, who does one root for... decisions, decisions. 

Underdogs are cool. Underdogs grab our hearts first, then our heads (and then our wallets). Underdogs make the memories that last a lifetime. 

"Yo Adrian, I did it"

Sunday, March 12, 2023

It's neat to meet on neat

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What a neat car! She gave a neat characterization of the old woman. Neato!

I guess if you were going to have a meeting (live or virtually) you would want the meeting to be neat. I mean, the opposite of neat would be untidy, disorderly, messy.

This past week I attended the Neat | Microsoft event in NYC. The event was, well, it was very neat indeed.

Neat designs simple and elegant video devices that make virtual meetings feel almost as real as meeting face-to-face. From their website
Neat - seamlessly bringing rich and meaningful experiences to people's work, interactions and lives across any meeting space. Neat devices have crystal-clear audio and video, plus advanced capabilities that support enhanced, engaging and safer hybrid working and learning environments. 

The event was great. And as a result of my attending the neat event, the community is now 
Just like that - we are now a Neat partner, offering all things Neat to everyone in North America

Ah, but here is what hit me: the food

No, seriously. It was the networking. It was meeting the folks from Neat and Microsoft, LIVE. It was the handshakes, the jokes, the smiles, the noise in the room. It was the fact that you could indeed touch and feel and use the product. The Microsoft facility at 11 Times Square is a perfect venue for such events. Did I mention the food?

Turns out that the Channel Manger for Neat lives just a few miles from me in North New Jersey. I graciously allowed him to buy me lunch this past Friday in good ol' BOONTON USA. We COULD have met virtually, but we both knew that a LIVE lunch meeting would be better. Again, food.

I am very impressed with Neat. The company, their culture, their technology, all of it. I know that we shall be very successful in selling, marketing, promoting all things Neat across North America. Neat figured it out - it is all about experiences. Technology can never replace meeting someone in real life. That's because when we're off screen and meet face to face, we share a sharper attention space. We communicate in synchrony through an interplay of speech, gestures, movement, observation and timing, using our senses to constantly shift focus and filter out distractions. 

I'll have to find out how they came about naming the company, Neat. I mean, the word neat has so many meanings, but they are all so very positive. It is a neat trick to pick a great product/company name. 

Yes, I did meet some neat people at the neat event. Hey, if you work at Neat are you automatically a neat person? Well, this is all I have to say on this Sunday, my neato blog has now ended. In such a neat manner, right? 

Hey, there will be neat food later, right? 

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Speed = Distance / Time

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In sports, speed is usually important. 

Bat speed, club head speed, how fast can you throw it. The fastest person to win (X) games or the fastest person to get (X) hits or whatever. Speed is a thing that most people can easily relate to - rapidity in moving, going, traveling, proceeding or performing. You know, swiftness.

If you work at full or optimum speed, that is usually a good thing. If you are up to speed, you would be functioning or producing at an expected, acceptable or competitive level - up to par. Like, "the new guy is not yet up to speed." 

Larry Csonka's New York area book signing event lasted a few hours. But, each person only got a minute or two. Some people brought magazines to be signed, or replica helmets. There were people with Dolphin's tattoos, and there must have been hundreds of #39 Dolphin NFL jerseys in the building. 

I think it would be safe to say that Larry was not the fastest runner in the NFL - pretty sure his teammate Eugene Edward "Mercury" Morris was much faster. No, Larry Csonka was not like most speedy running backs. He wasn't fast per se, and he was not the most agile player either. What he did possess was the ability to run the ball with power

Now when I say power, I'm talking about an athlete that could burst through the line, bowling over defenders, and leave them in his wake. He was the definition of a power back, one that could will his way to big yards and scores. Yep, one of the best fullbacks to ever play the game. Not a speedy runner, no. Just one of the best. 

Bob Hayes is the fastest player in NFL history. At the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Hayes won the 100 meter and broke the existing World Record with a time of 10.06 seconds. A three-time Pro Bowler, Hayes was inducted to the Football Hall of Fame in 2009. Ever hear of Bob Hayes? This is not a knock on Bob Hayes, but I never heard of him. Have you, my good blog reader, ever heard of (not fast) Larry Csonka? Yes. I bet you have heard of Larry Csonka before reading this Sunday blog.  

Sometimes, speed is the measure. And sometimes, success becomes even more dramatic with the absence of speed. 

In around 2000 I was running a company which was servicing the Maritime Industry with telecom and technology services. I owned MTP -  Do you remember BlackBerry? Man, that was such a hot product. I was working with a company named AireSpring as they were a big deal reselling BlackBerry phones and BlackBerry service. At its peak in September 2011, there were 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide. However BlackBerry lost its dominant position in the market due to the success of the Android and iOS platforms.

Now, 23 years later, we are a Master Agent for AireSpring - a Super Carrier - offering their Cloud Communications, Managed Connectivity and Managed Security. Wow, 23 years. Definitely NOT a speedy relationship - but today, one of our best vendors. After all this time, a contract that we executed over twenty years ago - a supplier relationship that started way back in 2000 - is one of our most valuable. One of our best

In business, sometimes speed is the measure. How long will this take? When will it be ready? Is there a deadline? Can we get it any faster? Can we get the delivery any sooner? Sometimes the true value is not is the speed, but the value is actually in the lack of speed. 

Sometimes it's all about the legacy. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Steak! Yeah, but not every day...

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Yesterday it was Capone, Capone and Capone for lunch. STEAK! 

Our "Go To" is Arthur's Tavern in Morris Plains, NJ. The girls had a bridal shower yesterday, so the boys were on our own for lunch. Alas, Arthur's did not open until 3:00 PM yesterday. CRISIS MODE....

OK, Google: what do we do NOW????

We found Franklin Steakhouse and Tavern in Fairfield, NJ. Their website promises "Great Food, Great Times." The good news is that the lunch was great, the steaks were great, and a good time was had by all.

But - we are still loyal to Arthur's Tavern. That was the general consensus on the ride home. And that made me reflect on why - and why we were feeling such BRAND LOYALTY to Arthur's Tavern.

It is 9.9 miles door to door to Arthur's. It is 10.4 miles door to door to Franklin Steakhouse. So that's not it. 

Price: about the same. 

The STEAKS:  ah, about the same. We voted 51 / 49 in favor of Arthur's. 

We shall come back to this. 

Today, via the (and now we sell Zoom. And GoTo. And BlueJeans, and Microsoft Teams, and Adobe, and Webex, and a few others. We are like the "Footlocker of Collaboration" and I sometimes joke, "Yes, but did you see the Nike Display?"

We TRIED to go to Arthur's but they did not open yesterday until 3:00 PM. If Arthur's was open yesterday at noon, there is a 99% change that we would have never, ever, ever checked out Franklin for lunch. It was only out of necessity that we were FORCED to check out Franklin. Ah, but now that we DID check out Franklin:

They have party rooms. They have rooms for corporate Lunch 'n Learns. They have much more ROOM and SPACE and they are easy to get to for events and such. And, you can hear each other speaking. You can actually have a conversation. And they have monitors on the walls, where you can use BlueJeans or Zoom or GoTo or.......

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

You might be a Zoom shop. Or Microsoft Teams. Or GoTo or Webex or.....(fill in your "steakhouse" of choice here).

It pays to try something different from time to time. It pays to see what else is out there in the world. You should have a policy to check things out, try new things, test new features. There are some things that Zoom does that Teams does not. There are some things that BlueJeans does that GoTo does not. There might be a FEATURE that is a "must have" and other features that might be "nice to have" but will not impact your buying decision. 

When the boys are in town, or we are celebrating a family outing, I'm pretty sure we are going to go to Arthur's Tavern.

When it is going to be a "close to home" Lunch 'n Learn or a business event with 10, 20 or more attending, we shall probably reserve a private room at Franklin Steakhouse and Tavern

Steak for Lunch: Walk it off...

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Clouds in My Coffee

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I'm 62 years old. It was around 50 years ago that I was living in Boca Raton, Florida wearing my #39 NFL football jersey as I watched my Miami Dolphins go 17-0. Still the only perfect season in the NFL. At 12 years old, Larry Csonka (football) was my childhood hero, with Johnny Bench (baseball) a very close second. 

Larry Csonka has a new book: "HEAD ON - A Memoir." More on this later. 

I started doing audio podcasts a few years ago - mostly because everyone was doing them. Currently, there are around 3 to 4 million audio podcasts out there. 44% have less than 3 episodes! Only around 700K have more than 10 episodes. And of those, only around 150K are releasing a weekly episode. 

A few years ago, I stopped doing audio (only) podcasts, and started doing video podcasts. My motivation? Again - because everyone was doing them. We kept the name as we transitioned from audio to video: Coffee in the Clouds. Just two people having a fireside chat on the Internet. On video, one take, live, no editing. NO EDITING! And, there was always a cup of coffee at hand. 

Now as we just took the wrapper off a new year, 2023 has become the year of the video podcast. At least for me. During COVID, no one was going ANYWHERE, so hybrid meetings, hybrid events were not very hybrid. It was ON LINE or nothing. We would do Zoom Talks with Actors, Authors, Athletes, and.. COMEDIANS. During lock-down, Zoom Comedy Shows were the only thing that a stand-up comedian could do. So, even though most of our comedian guests would much prefer a LIVE audience in a packed nightclub or large theater venue, it was Zoom Shows or nothing. Because some our comedian guests had millions of followers on their social media channels, our would get millions of eyeballs. Cool, I love millions of eyeballs. 

ZoomTalks became TomTalks which became interviews - but the introduction was always the same, such as: "Patton Oswalt - welcome to an episode of Coffee in the Clouds - how are you?!?" 

Actors, Authors, Athletes, Entrepreneurs. Thought Leaders. Subject Matter Experts. Some of our video podcast guests are famous in the business world, having millions of followers on LinkedIn. If you have millions of followers on LinkedIn, you got something going on... Millions of followers on Twitter or Instagram - OK, fine. But millions of followers on LinkedIn? Hello...

Our two favorite technology platforms for doing video podcasts are Zoom and BlueJeans by Verizon. Full disclosure: the ( and now which I run are Tier 1 ELITE Partners for both Zoom and for Verizon. And, we are impressed with a few other video conferencing platforms in the marketplace. But both Zoom and Verizon allow us to host LIVE video podcast recording sessions from our NYC office. Or from Convene. Or, from one of the 31 Hard Rock International locations. Or, from just about...anywhere in the world. If you have a stable high-speed Internet connection at your location, we are in business. So, we can have hundreds of people LIVE in the room, hundreds of thousands LIVE (virtually) and then millions of people watching the Livestreams or the archives like a TED Talk. 

As of 8:33 AM on 2/5/2023 the most viewed (non-comedian) Coffee In the Clouds of all time is Bill George. Right behind Bill is Marshall Goldsmith, then Tom Peters. It makes sense since 98% of our global community are "in business" in some capacity. And these are the kind of subject matter experts, the type of folks that have millions of followers on LinkedIn. Today, our association is indeed global, with 5.8M+ members and 46% of the Schools of Business. I expect that we shall be at 10M+ global members come 2024. 

I don't know who originally said, "Baseball has been very, very good to me." It might have been former MLB slugger Sammy Sosa. Or if you are old enough to have been watching SNL in the late Seventies, you might have been watching Episode 5 of Season 4. That was when SNL cast member Garret Morris nailed it, appearing as Chico Escuela for the first time in the Nov. 11, 1978 episode of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. 

"The Internet has been very, very good to me." ~ Thomas A. Capone, 2/5/2023

Last month, I sent an email to ZONK! Productions, Inc. c/o

"Larry, you would make a GREAT interview. We reach millions. You fit our audience perfectly: athlete, actor, author, entrepreneur.  Please say yes - we can promote your new book to our entire community. Larry - when I was growing up in Boca Raton, Florida, I wore your #39 jersey every day - especially in 1972! Please say yes." 

Hey, I wonder if Johnny Bench also wrote a book...

Sunday, January 29, 2023

We Shall Reconnoiter in Times Square

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Times Square - NYC

This week, convened at Convene

I don't know who named Convene "Convene" but they nailed it. Convene - as in to gather, to come together in one body or place. 

This month was CES in Las Vegas, with 100,000+ physically attending the Consumer Electronics Show. Attendance in 2019 (pre-COVID) was 182,000. Also this month was NRF 2023 at Javits Center NYC. Retail's Big Show hosted 40,000+ retail professionals and vendors from more than 90 countries for educational and networking opportunities. 

I attended CES virtually, and I attended NRF in person. Having New York City in my back pocket is, well, strategic. I live 30 miles West of Times Square. More than once, I have jumped on a bus in the morning, attended an unscheduled lunch meeting, and still made it back home in time for dinner and a trip to the dog park.

It was once famously said that if you stand in Times Square long enough, you'll see the entire world walk by. I have also heard it this way: If you stand in Times Square long enough, you will meet everyone you know. Times Square is famous for the New Year celebration, but it is also truly the center of the known universe. When someone asks me where I live, instead of saying "Northern New Jersey" most of the time I just say that I live "30 miles West of Times Square" and that usually kick starts the conversation. 

The NYDLA "office" is at 900 3rd Avenue NYC at GATEWAY. I usually go into NYC every other week. Whenever possible I work from my home office and I schedule my in-person (LIVE) meetings around scheduled events in the city. So, technically, I usually only need an office four days out of the month. 

Hard Rock International is a Sapphire Level Sponsor of and they have over 31 unique Hotels, Resorts and locations around the world. One of the new locations is Hard Rock Times Square - a two minute walk from the new Convene location, 1221 Avenue of the Americas. So our paid members can work at GATEWAY or at Convene, and then Sleep(?) at the Hard Rock Times Square. 

Convene is a leading hospitality company founded off the simple question asked by their CEO Ryan Simonetti: "What if you ran an office building like a hotel?" The Convene mission is to elevate the way people meet, work and live by reimagining what a "workday" means for today's most innovative organizations. Convene created a network of beautifully designed and tech-enabled meeting, event and WorkPlace locations (12 locations in The Big Apple). (and now members enjoy the friends and family treatment at all Hard Rock locations - and - at all Convene locations. Ah yes, membership has its privileges. Convene is, simply amazing. 

Javits Center. GATEWAY. Hard Rock International. Convene. 
I had my own simple question: "What if we ran a school, like the way that you run a city? A school - in a city - in the clouds? shall go live this year. Attend lectures and classes from home, attend lectures and classes from anywhere. Your location or ours. And our location? Well, Times Square of course - the center of the known universe. Live, learn, work, play, teach, train, coach, mentor - from anywhere. Attend classes and lectures from Convene, from Hard Rock, from GATEWAY. And of course, from the comfort of your home. Hey, you did right? 

Yeah, if you stand in Times Square long enough, you just might learn something. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

You Exit Through the Gift Shop

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Many years ago, when the kids were still little we made the obligatory trip to Disneyworld. While we were sitting for lunch off Main Street, U.S.A. I was a witness to a business lesson that stuck with me for life.

I watched as a young boy was going through a "rite of passage" as he was about to go into a store - alone -  and he was going to make a purchase - with his own money. 

It was like a scene from a Disney movie unfolding before my eyes. How appropriate, as Main Street U.S.A. is themed to resemble American small towns during the early 20th Century. The parents were there, and they pointed him in the right direction. The boy was walking into the store (by himself) with his (own) money clutched in his hand. The parents were watching, supervising, but they were pretending that they were not. Our family was sitting close enough to overhear the conversations. Their young son was going to make a purchase with his own "piggy bank money" like a big boy.

The father was covertly watching through the window of the shop and said back to his table loud enough for me to hear "He's buying a snow globe." As the Dad scrambled to sit back down unnoticed, out came his little boy...

And SMASH, there goes the snow globe into a million pieces. The little guy missed a step on the way down the stairs. Instantly the tears were flowing. The little kid was devastated. And I was a witness to it all.

Within seconds, a gentleman who was "sweeping up" from several feet away said, "Son, son... go inside and pick out another snow globe. Go ahead, get another snow globe." 

"But I don't have any more money.....that was all of my money...!!!" sniffled the young boy. 

"Go, just go... tell them you dropped your snow globe."

And within a minute or two, out came the boy, with a huge beaming smile, carrying his replacement snow globe. And this time, he did not drop it.  

The parents said a simple "thank you" to the man who obviously worked for sanitation in the park. Before he walked too far away, I walked over to him and I spoke up. "Hey, I saw what you did there with that little boy - that was pretty cool." What that Disney employee said back to me  - the man who was sweeping up - his words lasted with me for more than 25 years: 

"Disney is the happiest place on earth. We make memories that last a lifetime." 

While riding the rides at Disney, it struck me that you exit through the gift shop. The businessman in me noticed this, deeply. You get off the ride and as you exit, you are funneled through the gift shop - a gift shop usually themed for the rides or the characters from a Disney movie or whatnot. And, there were always snow globes. They made it really easy for you to buy things from the Disney gift shop. Things like Disneyworld knickknacks, Disney movie trinkets, Disney collectables and of course - Disney character themed snow globes. 

In modern culture, snow globes often symbolize childhood, innocence, or so-called "happy days" from our past. The film Citizen Kane (1941) starts with Charles Foster Kane in bed holding a snow globe, uttering "Rosebud...", the globe slips from his dying hand and smashes. Many films, books and TV shows have used snow globes as part of the storyline - sometimes with dark humor to evoke more gruesome scenes. 

I have been to Orlando and Disney many times for business, but it has been 25+ years since I exited a ride at Disneyworld and walked through one of their gift shops. But as I hold the remote control for my TV, I see that there are buttons for Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+ baked into the remote.

And every time I see that Disney+ button, I instantly think about that Brand Ambassador of Disney, that guy who was sweeping up 25+ years ago. That Disney employee who was empowered to protect the Disney brand, and who took it upon himself to without hesitation - drive home the culture of the brand. Even though I have not been (physically) back to Disneyworld in many years with the family, whenever I see the Disney+ logo, I am transported back in time to that "snow globe" day, even if just for a second. 

Yes, when (any theme park) makes you exit through the gift shop, it is all about the financial ROI, it is all about the business, the opportunity to convert a sale. You FEEL IT, when you are getting off the ride - you say to yourself: ah, they are trying to get into my wallet. They want me to buy something - anything - they want me to buy a damn snow globe! 

My friend Ted Rubin taught me all about ROR - Return on Relationship. Simply put, ROR is the value that has accrued by a person or a brand due to nurturing a relationship where the ROI is simply about money, revenue, profits. You know, the ROI of forcing you to exit through their gift shop.

ROR is the value that will accrue over time through connection, trust, loyalty, recommendations and sharing. 

This morning, I realize that I have had a deep, positive relationship with Disney and the Disney brand for many years. I have had a positive relationship with Disney and with the Disney brand ever since that kid accidently smashed his snow globe - and he immediately got the free replacement. That is ROR, all from the immediate response from that observant Disney Brand Ambassador - all from the guy who was sweeping up. 

25+ years of positive thoughts about the Disney brand, the Disney culture because of "the snow globe incident" and how it was handled. 

How do you put a value on that ROR? with Ted Rubin Part II
is coming soon......