Sunday, January 3, 2021

What do you think again?

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I love getting galley copies of books from authors. I have never received an advanced copy of a book and not loved it. It is because my brain is pre-wired to love it. Why? Because someone thinks that my opinion matters, and that my review will be valuable. 

When I was in my 20's (many years ago) I got called out when I said "Oh, I know them, they are one of my very good friends" and then it was uncovered that I was never in the same room with that person. Ever

Tom! I thought you said that you were good friends?!?  

Ah, we are very good "phone friends" was my reply. 

Phone Friends. That was actually a thing back in the day. 

Before there was Zoom and email and texting, there was - telephone. And talking on the phone was the center of all relationships. Friends, clients, customers, it was all about getting them on the phone. I remember when having someone's "direct line" was a big deal. And you better never get caught giving out that private number. That was taboo. You never wanted to hear "how did you get this number?" Oh man, that is a hole that you don't usually dig out of. 

OK, so Adam Grant is one of my very good friends. I wonder if he knows that? He is on our website. We exchange emails. He likes my tweets. Enough to retweet me, on occasion. But we never met in real life. So this made me pause: can you be friends with someone if you never meet in real life? Can you be Zoom friends? 

Is "Zoom Friends" the new phone friends?  

I met Simon in real life. And I met Seth in real life. And Malcolm and Dan. And without clicking on their names, you probably know who they are - well maybe not Dan but he is very cool indeed. But I never met Adam - in real life. I guess you really have made it when you only need a first name to be recognized. Hey wait - Adam IS the first name - as in the first name ever! 

Daniel, Brene, Bill and Melinda have given great praise to Adam's new book. So did M. Night Shyamalan. But I am not sure that they are all good friends in real life - or they all might just be the 2021 version of phone friends.

I shall do a video podcast with Adam. Our fireside Zoom chats have become "a thing" and we now call them Coffee In the Clouds. And now we have done CITC with actors, authors, athletes, comedians, musicians. I might never meet these people in real life. I hope that we shall indeed meet many of our CITC guests, but we may not. And with COVID, I am not totally sure what travel will look like for the near future. 

Adam does not need anyone's help to make his books become best sellers - but I don't think he will turn down any help - especially during a pandemic. His four previous books have sold millions of copies and have been translated into 35 languages. His TED talks have been viewed more than 20 million times. His speaking and consulting clients include Google, the NBA, and the Gates Foundation. (Ah ha! He probably DID meet Bill and Melinda - in real life). 

From his new book: Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom

I'll be gifting Adam's new book to the members of NYDLA. Adam did not know this before this blog post - I guess that is the power of "knowing what you don't know" in action. 

Yeah, that's what good friends do for each other - even if they never met. and receive 
Adam's new book for free.

Friday, December 25, 2020

My Last Blog

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The goal of life is not to have our lives mean something to ourselves. The goal of life is to have our lives mean something to others. ~ 
NYDLA talent Simon Sinek

This shall be my last blog of 2020. This time next week shall be the first day of 2021. I rarely skip my Sunday Blog, but it has been known to happen. Like last Sunday - no blog. Yeah, well, I had no muse last week. 

MUSE ALERT!!!! It's Christmas Day 2020. 

There are eight federal holidays in the United States, and Christmas is the only one that is religious in origin. New Year's Day and Thanksgiving are secular. The other five federal holidays honor labor, fallen soldiers, veterans, OUR BIRTHDAY (USA) and MLK. But this birthday party - Christmas - literally "Christ Mass" is the feast day of Jesus of Nazareth. 

Is there (was there?) really a War on Christmas? Is the Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays debate still raging? Anyone with too much time on their hands can Google the "birth" of Santa Claus, a pivot from Saint Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop who's feast day (December 6th) was once an occasion for giving gifts to children. Blame Madison Avenue USA who transformed St. Nick into the old elf, with the beard and the red suit and hat. And the image that we all have today of Santa is from the Coca-Cola ads, right? 

I find it amazing how here in the USA, December 25th became a feast of capitalism. I guess we were not paying attention to the lessons of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, or It's a Wonderful Life. I mean, Mr. Scrooge does send a Christmas Goose to Bob Cratchit, right? And don't get me started on the Grinch who carves the roast beast. 

My uncle Herman turned 89 last night - Christmas Eve. My son Tommy organized a "group call" and that was fun. Did you know that December 24th and December 25th are the two rarest days to have a birthday, other than February 29th? Well, Uncle Herman knows, as he reminds us all of that fact - every year. "No one will ever forget my birthday!" Ah yes, they may not always reach out, but they will always remember.

This Christ Mass Feast of Jesus of Nazareth is looking a little bleak. The current POTUS is setting monsters free, playing golf while the rest of our leadership is voting down even the most modest COVID-19 relief packages. Infection rates of COVID are up, all the ICU beds in Southern California are full. We are not able to gather together as we normally would. But, we light our outdoor lights on December 25th because it is the culmination of the solstice celebration - the darkest and longest day of the year. You know, the pagan festival that honors the Sun God? I really should not Google stuff.

My uncle was born on Christmas Eve. Hard to forget his birthday. My son Tommy got married this month - 12/06/2020. It was a COVID COMPLIANT modified wedding. And it was perfect. And I don't think I will ever forget Tommy and Danielle's wedding anniversary. 

And then, it hit me. Just this morning - Christmas Day morning. THE CHRIST MASS. The Feast of Jesus of Nazareth. Birthday Celebrations. Wedding Celebrations. So, of course I had to Google The Parable of the Wedding Feast. 

In the New Testament times, a wedding was a very sacred and joyous thing. Some wedding celebrations even lasted up to or more than week. Jesus said, "When you make a dinner or a supper, don't call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbors, or perhaps they might also return the favor, and pay you back. But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind - and you shall be blessed because they don't have the resources to pay you." 

Now (in full disclosure) I am not 100% sure that Jesus said those exact words. But I know this to be true: The goal of life is not to have our lives mean something to ourselves. The goal of life is to have our lives mean something to others.

A wedding is like a birthday, right? The first day - the birth of something new, the beginning of something remarkable. The Parable of the Wedding Feast, On Jesus Birthday. Do we KNOW that Jesus was born on December 25th? Most people say that was most likely NOT the date. 

Ya know something? (as my son Tommy would exclaim loudly when he was young...) Jesus COULD have been born on 12/06/2020 - Santa Claus Birthday - and Tommy's Wedding Day! Or any day. We are not even totally sure Jesus was born in the winter

Or as my good friend Chuck Dickens would say:

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol 

Our Capone Family Christmas Miracle

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Curtain Call

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A curtain call (also known as a walkdown or a final bow) occurs at the end of a performance when one or more performers return to the stage to be recognized by the audience for the performance. 

In film and TV, the term "curtain call" is used to describe a sequence at the end of the film and before the closing credits, in which brief clips, stills, or outtakes featuring each main character are shown in sequence with the actor's name captioned. 

I'm old enough to remember the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which featured a theater-style curtain call at the conclusion of their series finale. The cast broke character, and it was very emotional. It was like the cast was actually in my home. Like good friends saying "so long, see you soon." 

This week I participated in the Intrado Virtual Digital Summit - A Virtual Event for Communicators. Last year we held the event in NYC and streamed the event to the world. This year, due to COVID, the event was 100% virtual. It was a full day of presentations, from people living in every time zone. 

For years, technology has been used to deliver high-impact content and virtual events. Marketing, Public Relations, Internal Communications, Investor Relations - all have been using technology to connect with an audience for a long time now. But since COVID, virtual events, product launches, investor days, marketing webinars, employee town halls - these were (and still are) 100% in the cloud. Virtual or nothing, at least for now. 

Ever since the COVID lockdown, I have been working from home. Last year, I would spend one or two days a week at our 11 Times Square office, which is 23 miles east of my New Jersey home. We have been forced to go totally virtual this year. No Times Square, no Javits Center. No Lunch 'n Learns, no Sunset Seminars on amazing NYC rooftop bars. 

But I realized something this week. My presentation was only 15 minutes long. I chose to use no slides, no PowerPoint. Just me, speaking from the heart, to a few million friends. "Welcome to my home, North America" is how I felt. And right before I started to speak, I remembered Andy Warhol's words - in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes", which appeared in the program for a 1968 exhibition of his work. 

I decided to just speak - to the world - from the heart - for 15 minutes. 

My Home Office - Virtual Backdrop

All of the presentations for the day were very well done. Virtual Event Technology has truly come of age. In the future, once we start having events LIVE from New York City again, I am sure that all events shall be hybrid events - live - supported by virtual technology. The power of LIVE and VIRTUAL will be the way we live, learn, work and play in the global cloud economy - now and in the future. 

There was no curtain call for the presenters of the Intrado Virtual Digital Summit - A Virtual Event for Communicators. But I do see that I have 1,437 new connections on LinkedIn that were not there the day before. I guess my new jokes were not so bad after all. 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Don't Press It

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I love, LoVe, LOVE The Press Lounge in NYC.  

I cannot tell you the number of times we have hosted events at The Press Lounge. Just a few blocks from our office at 11 Times Square, they have one of the most incredible views of the city. Specialty cocktails, seasonal farm-to-table fare, and the most incredible views from their indoor / outdoor space that is heated and covered. Did I mention the views?

Alas, these days we are not ready for hosting any NYDLA "Sunset Seminars" in the clouds. One day in the future for sure, but not yet.

Today is my son's wedding. My oldest son. Thomas A. Capone Jr. aka "Tommy Baby".  

And we celebrate this wedding day as we (all of us) are suffering under COVID.

What would have normally been an AMAZING day and evening of celebration with friends and family, we are operating under COVID. And we need to be OK with this. 

As I write this blog post on 12/6/2020, from Tuesday to Saturday, 1,000,882 new coronavirus cases were reported in the US, according to data from John Hopkins University, bringing the total to more than 14.5 million confirmed cases and deaths from the virus. And as the impacts of Thanksgiving travel and gatherings begin to reveal themselves, and hospitals fill to capacity, experts say it is likely only going to get worse. 

Thankfully, there is new hope. Federal government officials are promising coronavirus vaccines soon - some even before Christmas. It almost sounds as if people will be lining up everywhere before New Year's to get a vaccine. The federal government has promised that any coronavirus vaccine shall be provided free of charge to the American public. That would be very unlikely to change under a Biden administration. 

I shall end this blog now, as my wife and I need to get ready to drive to Long Island. My son is getting married today. My oldest son will become a married man today, in very COVID COMPLIANT ceremony. Come this time tomorrow, TEAM CAPONE shall have grown by one. And I'll have another daughter. 

Folks, that is what matters. 

It's not about the amazing sunsets from NYC locations such as The Press Lounge. It's not the wedding receptions with music and dancing. There will be a day in the future for a CAPONE PARTY - a major blowout. A celebration that will make the news......

But today, just for today, we shall attend a very COVID COMPLIANT wedding ceremony. It's not the size of the wedding party, or the size of the reception - and I can prove it.

I'm already celebrating. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Whatcha got for me?

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Where do good ideas come from? 

Chapter One: The Post

One of my favorite people who I never met "in real life" pinged me on LinkedIn yesterday with an idea.  Here is the cut/paste from my LinkedIn feed:

Tom, here is the idea and I have "no idea" how to pull it off:  The Great Feed

You have a feed. I have a feed. Thousands of others have feeds here on LinkedIn and on various social media. What if we all got together to use our feeds to feed the millions who are without food here in the USA right now? Maybe it works like this: we create a post and if you like and share it, every action turns into money. For every 1000 posts, we donate $1000 to FeedMore or such an organization. But we need help, we would need an angel donor (or donors). I don't have the money, but I do have the energy and you have the network as do many others here. We could do it until the holiday ends. Let's discuss and I'd love to hear other ideas. Happy Saturday, Tom. 

Chapter Two: The Bolt of Lightning 

For me, ideas are like bolts of lightning. Sudden illumination. The destruction of ignorance. Jung sees lightning as liberating the soul. 

Within minutes (literally... minutes) of my friend's post in Messenger, I bought So, now it's real. I spent $10 so this is no longer just an idea - it is REAL. The way it went down: read the post, say wow, buy domain name. Never let a good thunderbolt go to waste.

Chapter Three: What would Johann Wolfgang von Goethe do?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (August 28, 1749 - March 22, 1832) was a German poet, playwright, novelist and scientist. He is considered one of the greatest literary figures of his age. In 1765, Goethe left home to study law, as his father wished, but due to his illness (probably tuberculosis) he returned home without a degree. However, while at university, Goethe was much more absorbed with writing, but he burned some of his works as he considered them unworthy. 

Often regarded as Germany's Shakespeare, he was also a "quote factory" of sorts. Here are just a few quotes that will change the way you see yourself and others. If you Google Goethe Quotes your computer will blow up:

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. * Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game. * A person hears only what they understand. * Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success. * As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. * To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking. * Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together. * Everything is hard before it is easy.

And my favorite: "Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it."

Buying the domain name makes it real. Spending $10 makes it real. Putting a post on social media, writing this blog, action makes the idea REAL. 

And so: was born on 11/28/2020. I forced the birth of my friend's idea. I have "no idea" if this shall be final domain name, or how many iterations or versions of THE IDEA will push forward over the next several days. I told my web team this morning to get the "coming soon" page up, ASAP. It is 7:44 AM EST on 11/29/20 and they will all see this blog. Ahem. 

Epilogue: The Highest Cannot Be Spoken; It Can Only Be Acted

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do. Today, right now, there are people who do not have enough food for their family. There are people right here in the USA who are going to go hungry. Today. Right now, there is Hunger in America. Enough. 


I never met my LinkedIn friend "In Real Life" but something tells me we shall indeed meet. And something tells me that I'll meet many people in his network. I think this is a good place for one of MY quotes, to end today's blog:

Show me your friends, and I'll show you who you are. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020


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Jaws was released in the Summer of 1975. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie almost never made it. The mechanical shark would not work, the movie was way over budget. "We started the film without a script, without a cast and without a shark," said Richard Dreyfuss on the film's troubled production.

When the screenwriter of Alien was pitching the studio for the movie (the soon to be sci-fi classic) he described it as "Jaws in Space."

Jaws was the prototypical summer blockbuster, regarded as a watershed moment in motion picture history. It won several awards for its music and editing. It was the highest-grossing film in history, until the release of Star Wars in 1977.

Ah yes, Star Wars also almost died in production. In 1971, George Lucas wanted to film an adaption of the Flash Gordon serial, but could not obtain the rights. NO. That was a big no. If he got a yes, there might have been no Star Wars. After directing American Graffiti in 1973, Lucas wrote a two-page synopsis, which 20th Century Fox decide to invest. By 1974, he had expanded the story into the first draft of a screenplay. Today the Star Wars franchise total value is estimated at $70 billion. 

This: I watched the most recent episode of The Mandalorian last night, as they roll out a new episode every Friday on Disney+ 

Also this: Baby Yoda is selling at Kohl's this Christmas Season for around $24.95

Disney paid more than $4 billion in 2012 to acquire LucasFilm, the production company responsible for the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" film franchises.  At the time, Lucas was getting ready to retire, and Disney, led by then-CEO Bob Iger, was taking aggressive steps to broaden its appeal to consumers. In 2009 Disney bought Marvel Entertainment for about $4 billion. I guess if you have something to sell to Disney, you should put a price tag of $4 billion on it to speed up the negotiation. 

In 1996 Marvel was mired in bankruptcy, and a decade later banked its nascent film franchise on a second-tier superhero called Iron Man. The film helped to pull Robert Downey Jr. from a scandal-ridden career, and went on to make $585 million worldwide. Stanley Martin Lieber (aka Stan Lee) you shall be missed. 

OK, Tom. Pivot! 

My son Tommy is getting married in two weeks. Two Sundays from today. And the COVID-19 pandemic is raging. It is getting worse, not better. Last night we did a Zoom meeting with the family to talk about the wedding, and how every day is making the events of December 6th, 2020 a "game time" decision. What we do know: On December 6th, I'll have two daughters, not one. And the Capone name shall grow (again) by one. But that's about all we know for sure. There WILL be a Wedding Ceremony. Everything else: ask me on the evening of December 6th and I'll give you a full report. 

On November 13th, I got a Friend Request on Facebook. I'm close to 5,000+ friends, and I really don't accept friends to my personal page very often. In fact, I purged many over the last year. I ignored the friend request, but they persisted. "Hey Tom, we used to be best friends, don't you remember? You drove me around in your Formula Firebird and drove me out to PURDUE one time and taught me how to drive and...and......and...."  

Oh, wow. A kid that I mentored when I was in my 20's. I accepted the friendship, but he wanted to talk on the phone. I'm kinda busy. I told him via chat that we would talk one day soon.

"Well, hopefully one day soon because I was given six months to live about a month ago. I would love to hear from you. The only reason I am active on Facebook is to connect with some old friends and stuff. Unless I get a new heart I don't have much time."

We spoke for an hour. I was blown away, as the last time I saw or heard from this kid (kid?) was at my mother's funeral in the early 80's. It turns out that after we lost touch, he went to PURDUE like me. Suffice it to say that he led an AMAZING Forrest Gump life. For at least an hour, he spoke and I listened. I felt like I was the one listening to someone pitch "Forrest Gump" to a Hollywood studio.

"Tommy, I hate being sick. I hate not knowing if I'm going to be able to walk my daughter down the aisle one day, or see my grandkids. Talking to you makes me feel like I'm 16 again and that I have the best 21 year old friend in the world. You never treated me like a kid - you always respected me."

I was a mentor and I did not even know it. So many times in life, we no have idea how our words, our actions, our behavior will impact others. Today, the Facebook "brand" has some repair work to do. Did Mark Zuckerberg have any (any) idea what the future held for THE FACE BOOK when the social media platform was born in a Harvard dorm room? Could anyone predict that in the year 2020, Baby Yoda would be the must-have toy? Or COVID-19?

Jaws. Alien. Star Wars. The "kid" from Newark, New Jersey who followed me to PURDUE. You never know how things are going to turn out. You cannot control the future, but you most certainly can control the present. YOU CAN control how you treat other people - today. 

I have two amazing sons, Bobby and Tommy. When growing up, Bobby was called "Baba" and Tommy was called "Tommy Baby". TAH-MEE BAY-BEE has been my battle cry since March 2nd, 1990. And now, on December 6th, 2020 no matter HOW MANY (or few) people attend the COVID compliant wedding ceremony, I'll be there. And there shall be a TAH-MEE BAY-BEE shout out. 

Tommy Baby. Baby Yoda. From this day forward I'll never see or hear "Yoda" again, without having an instant mental flash of my two sons, their wedding days, and our amazing growing family. And I'll smile. 

I guess THE FORCE is with me, eh? 

Guess what - it is with you as well.

Baba and Tommy Baby

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Finishing Finishing School

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A finishing school is (was?) a school for young women that focused on teaching social graces and upper-class cultural rites as a preparation for entry into society. It would focus primarily on deportment and etiquette, with academic subjects secondary. In the USA, it is sometimes called a charm school. 

Yeah, this was actually a thing. 

Through much of their history, United States finishing schools emphasized social graces and de-emphasized scholarship. Society encouraged a polished young lady to hide her intellectual prowess for fear of frightening away male suitors. The mission: get a husband. 

I was born in 1960, and grew up during the Space Race. I started watching the miniseries The Right Stuff on Disney+ this month. Astronauts and their families become instant celebrities in a competition that will either kill them or make them immortal in the quest to be a part of Project Mercury. The show brings up the concept of female astronauts - women in space. And they basically laugh at the thought. Women Astronauts??? Please. 

My wife and I also watched the Netflix miniseries The Queen's Gambit. Set during the Cold War era, orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon struggles with addiction in a quest to become the greatest chess player in the world. It seems like everyone on the planet is watching The Queen's Gambit, so I won't waste my time suggesting that you watch it.  But you should. 

This is what hit me. Today, you have an INFINITE number of streaming options. It is hard to find a show that everyone seems to be watching - a show that everyone seems to love. But The Queen's Gambit has stayed on top the platform's Top 10 list since its release in October. If you did not already watch it, I'll bet someone (like me) told you that you should be. 

There is something highly soothing about watching people play chess - an analog game in today's world of digital everything. And in the miniseries, there is luxury air travel, fancy restaurants and posh hotel rooms, and all the things that we are currently missing during the days of COVID and quarantine lockdowns and social distancing. 

Both of these miniseries are fictional, although The Right Stuff is somewhat based on history. Space and Chess were for men, not women. Today, we indeed have female astronauts. Not sure about female chess grandmasters, but I'll bet there were and are many. Even though The Queen's Gambit is totally fiction, it has many life lessons. Chess is a game of intellect. Brain power. In chess, nobody cheats. There is an honor code. And even though it was a "Man's Game" and women did not play - even the Chess Grandmasters of Russia gave female American Beth Harmon her due. 

I think the entire world is due for a new type of Finishing School. One that prepares ALL people for living in the new world of global communication, global collaboration, and better cultural norms. Today's world is digital, not analog. We are ALL connected, we ALL share one planet in real-time. This blog (could) reach millions, in the blink of an eye. Tools like Zoom have made the world one big connected community. In the time that it took to read this blog, a million people could have started watching The Right Stuff, or The Queen's Gambit or just about anything that they wish. YouTube, TED Talks, the list of options is growing exponentially. How many audio/video podcasts are there now? You won't live long enough to listen to or watch 1% of them. And don't get me started on Audible books. I'm addicted to books in the clouds. 

I think we are due for a Finishing School for ALL Humans. We are all now living in a global society. All are welcome, from every time zone. Yes, this is long overdue - with a heavy emphasis on the word "all" and maybe replacing the the word Finishing with Lifelong

The Lifelong School of Human Development. 

All are welcome to THRIVE in the new global society. Tuition is free, as long as you agree to pay it forward. Yeah, we should do that. After all, we humans are smarter today than we were in the 1960's right? We are smarter now, right? Please tell me we are (all) smarter now in 2020 than in the 1960's. 

Cool picture below, eh? The Right Stuff, only better.