Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Place of the Way

A dojo is a hall or space for immersive learning or meditation. This is traditionally in the field of martial arts, but has been seen increasingly in other fields, such as meditation and software development.

The term literally means "place of the way" in Japanese.

For many years I have been teaching (preaching?) to everyone that works with us, that "the way" that you work is the work. Especially with remote work. 

I was selling "car phones" for a living in the 80's. The birth of the cellular phone industry happened in the New York market, with only 9 cell towers (the NYCGSA - New York Cellular Geographic Service Area).  Wow, some things you never forget, eh?

I was there for the birth of the Palm Pilot, the first PCs, (I had an Apple IIe) and Modems. Ah yes, I remember buying my first modulator-demodulator don't you? 

It seems that all my life, all of my working business career the path was to remote. To work "away" from the office, away from the desk. Computer > Portable Computer. Office Phone > Car Phone. Then portable phones, then smartphones. Technology (all my life, in reflection) has been about making things work - remotely. Chinese Tao (or Dao) means "way" or "path". 

And here we are. COVID-19 has thrust the entire world into a remote lifestyle. We used to go into the city because that was where the office was - the office with the business phone system, the filing cabinets, the conference rooms. If you are old like me, the office was where the typewriters were, the copy machines, the fax machines. You HAD to commute to the city, there was no alternative to producing valuable work. Cue the skyscrapers. 

Contact Centers, Call Centers - with rows and rows of cubicles were necessary for massive corporations to function. 

The world has flipped. We now have Box and Dropbox and GoToMeeting and Zoom and Zoom Phone and Workplace and Shopify and BigCommerce and iPhones and iPads and Basecamp and Salesforce and.....

Ah so. But, THE WAY that we work, "the way" that we use these tools - has become the work. The way that the work is done - is the work. 

One of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes is "You are not paid by the hour. You are paid for the VALUE that you bring to the hour". 

For the next several months, the business world is going to pinch every penny twice before they spend money - on anything. There will be less room for error. Competition for work will increase 10x as remote work just becomes - work. Just as Distance Education has become simply Education, and Telemedicine has become just Medicine and how Commerce became eCommerce - but is now back to just being Commerce!

My "OK, Boomer" brain just thought about the 2004 Pixar movie "The Incredibles" which had a famous line: When everyone has a superpower, then no one does. 

When we all have access to superpowers (Box, Zoom, Zoom Phone, Workplace, G-Suite, Microsoft Teams, iPads, iPhones, etc.) then we are all "Supers" and when we ALL have superpowers - then we have rendered the difference meaningless. 

The global playing field has been leveled by COVID-19. New York or Nebraska. Miami or Milwaukee. London or Los Angeles. The size of your skyscraper no longer matters. 

But "the way" that you work - the VALUE that you bring to the hour - that shall indeed be your superpower. 

And back to the dojo. The place of the way. Just remember this: not every White Belt will become a Black Belt. But EVERY Black Belt was once a White Belt. 

Congratulations, Sensei - YOU (yes you) are now the proud owner of your own dojo! And it looks like your dojo (spare bedroom) can hold a few million students. 

Now, THAT is truly...Incredible. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

We Live in Interesting Times

You can Google it yourself, but there is an old curse that goes "May you live in interesting times." There are many variations of this, and it is not exactly clear where it originally comes from.

May you live in interesting times.
May you live in an interesting age.
May you live in exciting times.

The most fascinating periods in history were filled with tumult and upheaval. Tales of treachery, wars, and chaos provide compelling reading, but the participants who were living through momentous changes were probably experiencing trepidation, hunger, and pain.

Over the course of history, humankind has moved from one crisis to another. We have suffered from one disturbance and shock after another. Some crisis were man made; others were due to Mother Nature.

The Chinese have lived so much in peace, that they have acquired (by habit, and by education) a common horror of disorder. "Better to be a dog in peace than a man in anarchy," is a common maxim. It is a general rule that the worst of men are fondest of change and commotion, hoping that they may benefit from the chaos.

Bad men benefit from chaos. We shall come back to this.

This "Sunday Blog" may be a little more deep than normal. I tend to be a visionary optimist, probably just short of being a Pollyanna. I have a tendency to find good in everything - sometimes to the shock of friends and family. Born in 1960, I was grew up in an interesting age. The "Space Race" was certainly exciting times. But, it was also fueled by the Cold War with Russia. If there was not the fear of nuclear war with Russia, I am not sure we would have landed a man on the moon. NASA was born out of fear, not so much out of adventure.

Our lives are not about avoiding challenges. Dealing with hardship makes you stronger. America is America because we overcome adversity and challenges. It is what has made America great.

One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is from Apollo 13. After the lunar landing was aborted when an oxygen tank exploded on the spacecraft, the NASA leaders back in Houston hear those famous words come over the radio: "Houston, we have a problem."

Flight director Gene Kranz (played by Ed Harris) is discussing a solution with his team when he overhears two NASA directors discussing the low chances of survival for the crew. Kranz overhears one of them say "This could be the worst disaster NASA has ever experienced."

Kranz calmly turns around and directly addresses him by retorting, "With all due respect, sir, I believe this is going to be our finest hour."

I was ten years old when Gene Kranz made that statement, but it was many years (decades) later that I learned of his leadership in a time of crisis.

In 1995 the movie Apollo 13 directed by Ron Howard, starring Tom Hanks (playing Commander Jim Lovell), Bill Paxon, Kevin Bacon was released. Even though we KNOW that Apollo 13 has a happy ending, the movie was a huge hit because it was about the hero's journey. It was about the story - it was about overcoming the odds.

The movie was about humans living - and thriving - in interesting times.

Earlier this month, Tom Hanks told the world that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, have the coronavirus. I wonder how many lives Tom Hanks has saved by telling the world of his condition, at a time when COVID-19 was still being considered by many people in the world to be "a hoax."

Yes, we (all of us) live in interesting times.

We always have, and we always will.

 "Our finest hour"

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Did you sing Happy Birthday today?

OK, we all know that we need to wash our hands.

Washing our hands many times a day is the right thing to do. If you wash your hands before every meal, and after using the bathroom, you should be washing your hands somewhere between seven and eleven times a day.

Your mother would tell you to wash your hands when you were a kid, right?

So, do you wash your hands?

How many times a day do you wash your hands?

HOW LONG do you wash, when you wash your hands? Do you sing "Happy Birthday" (twice) to get the 20 second results that is the standard minimum time to properly wash your hands?

Did you just start washing your hands this year, due to COVID-19 or did you practice good hand hygene all your life?

I find it fascinating that you can GOOGLE "washing your hands" and find 472,000,000 results.

You can find YouTube videos about washing your hands.

You can learn about washing your hands with (or without) water.

You can learn about hand washing time, the importance of hand washing, the science behind washing your hands, proper hand washing technique, the dangers of not washing your hands after using the bathroom, proper hand washing procedure for healthcare workers, and of course, hand washing facts.

OK, where are you going with this Tom?

We live in a world where information on any topic is a few keystrokes away. Or, a verbal (voice) request to Siri, or Alexa, or Cortana or OK Google.

Having access to all the knowledge in the world - from anywhere in the world - at any time of the day or night is truly amazing.

But nothing positive happens until we DO SOMETHING with the knowledge that we have at our fingertips. Knowledge without matching action is a terrible thing indeed.

Speaking of fingertips......when was the last time you washed your hands?

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Répondez s'il vous plaît

RSVP is an initialism derived from the French phrase meaning "Please respond" to require confirmation of an invitation. Sometimes invitations will request an RSVP for "regrets only." This means that if you know you cannot attend, you should let the host know via the requested method as stated in the invitation. Keeping in mind if you DON'T respond to a "regrets only" RSVP, you are expected to be there.

On the last three days of this month, select NYDLA members will be at the Marriott Marquis, New York City. It's kinda a big deal, where qualified "NYED-LA" members will be "fully hosted" including airfare, accommodations, meals, and planned activities. If you are a decision maker for your company, if you qualify to attend because you have the power of the pen, if you influence the buying decision for your college, school, corporation or organization, you can expect an Uber Black to pick you up at your home, take you to the airport, fly you to NYC, wine and dine you for three days, all while you experience the iconic landmarks and sophisticated culture of New York City. All of this, with the intention of converting you into a paying customer. Yeah, we have some AMAZING sponsors. And they want to meet you, up close and personal. 

So here, yeah, with such a "fully hosted" event, the RSVP from the invited guest is a big deal. After all, there are only so many rooms at the Marriott Marquis. And of course, even the largest of the conference rooms can only hold so many people, right? If they send an Uber for you, you better have your bags packed and be ready to go to the airport.

Also this month: NYDLA members shall be attending (actually co-sponsoring) a virtual global expo. From Singapore to Silicon Valley, from New York City to London, "NYED-LA" members will be invited to gather online to build and launch and sell their products globally. With a focus on crowdfunding, entreprenuership and global growth, this global interactive event will help an (unlimited) number of people to build their global brands. 

Here, all are welcome - RSVP from our invited guests is not required. Everyone on the planet is welcome to attend our virtual global expo - there's plenty of room in the clouds. And it's carbon footprint friendly. 

Powered by Workplace by Facebook, this virtual event is forecasted to be our biggest event to date. There is NO LIMIT to the number of people who can attend live. It is estimated that 2.89 billion people use Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger each month and more than 2.26 billion people use at least one of the Facebook family of services every day, on average. Workplace has 3M+ paid users, companies from retail, technology, telecommunications, financial services, media, entertainment, hospitality, food & beverage, transportation, real estate, utilities, shipping and government.

The Oculus Rift headset was for gamers by gamers, end of story. But then Facebook bought the company for around $2 billion because it had much bigger vision and plans for virtual reality as the future of engagement. Such as virtual events, virtual trade shows, virtual meetings, and of course - Esports

I live around 30 miles west of Times Square. So, with no traffic I could leave my house and be at the Marriott Marquis in just over an hour. No big deal. But for someone who has never been to The Big Apple, it is a very big deal. I'll be attending the three day event at the Marriott Marquis the end of this month - and - I'll ALSO be attending our virtual global expo on the 29th - via my Oculus headset. From the Marriott Marquis. 

Last thing: according to Goldman Sachs, the global Esports audience will grow from 194 million to 276 million in 2022. So mega global events at venues like the Marriott Marquis in New York City will be like hosting the ultimate GLOBAL Super Bowl. 

That $2B+ that Facebook paid for Oculus is starting to look like a pretty good deal.

Now, please RSVP here so that I know you read this blog. 

Esports shall soon overtake the NBA's 400 million fans. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

What's the Story, Jerry?

If you lived in the NYC area in the 70's you have heard Gerald Rosenberg's voice a million times. But you probably never knew his last name.

Jerry was an American television direct-response advertising salesperson most notable for promoting local businesses. His distintive balding scalp, rotund body, thick Brooklyn accent and impassioned sales pitches made him a recognized television presence in the USA, primarliy in the "New York Megalopolis." 

Starting back in 1971, Rosenberg's ads were always they same: "What's the story, Jerry?" and the ads ended with the off-screen line "So that's the story, Jerry," in which he would reply in his trademark accent "That's the story!"

It was more like "Dat's the STOOORRRRRREEEEEE"

If you do remember Jerry, if you were living in the NYC tri-state area in the 70's, or if you had TV coverage from the New York market in the 70's, I just gave you an earworm - sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, stuck song syndrome, or Involuntary Musical Imagery (IMI). 

Your welcome. 

We just had the Super Bowl. We've come a long way from TV ads in the 70's and 80's. Radio was still king, with drive time radio spots out performing TV. The winning ads, the ads that we talked about at work on Monday, were all about the story. Yeah, some ads were cute, some were funny, but the ones that win the awards are mini movies - they are all about the story. 

Earlier this month I did a video podcast with Chris Brogan.

Chris is the Yoda of Storytelling for Business. 

Did you see what I just did there? That one word - Yoda - you know EXACTLY what Chris Brogan does - because there is a 99.9999% chance that if you are reading this blog, you have seen Star Wars, and you know EXACTLY what it means to say that someone is "the Yoda of" anything

All because of.....the power of story. 

I could have said that Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies tell their company story better. Or, I could have said that Chris believes that business storytelling is a necessary tool for 2020 and beyond.

I had you at Yoda. 

Now that TV and Radio have been replaced by "the cloud" and all things instant global mass media - it is even MORE important to know:

It's not who has the best story.  It's who can tell their story the best.

So that's the story, Tommy?


Sunday, February 2, 2020

Anything good on TV?

OK! It's Super Sunday!

First, if you say "I only watch the game for the commercials" then you are in luck! Click here to see 'em all. 

The first Super Bowl commercial cost $37,000.
Today it will cost $5,600,000 for a 30 second spot.

There were 42 Super Bowl commercials in 2019, but that number fluctuates from year to year.

Most of today's commercials will be 30 seconds long, but some will surely be 60 seconds or longer, especially the tearjerkers. There may be a few 15-second quick-hitters thrown in, and maybe some company aiming for volume and quirkiness.

One of the BEST Super Bowl Commercials ever, is the 2014 "Puppy Love" spot. It was a mini movie. It is the most watched, the most replayed. Here is the winning ad:

Now, here is the explanation as to why "the story" works. The Poynter Institute's Al Tompkins explains how to use story structure, character development, story focus, video & audio basics. If you are in sales, or if you are in marketing (OR IF YOU HAVE A PULSE) you will really want to watch the above - and then watch the below.

THIS video from Al Tompkins is a MASTER CLASS in storytelling, for the biggest stage (The Super Bowl)

Remember, in business, it's not who has the best story - it's who tells their story the best!

Join and meet (and learn from) cool people like Al Tompkins

And Go Kansas City Chiefs!!!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

It's been eventful

If you describe a period of time as eventful, you mean that a lot of interesting, exciting, or important things have happened during it.

This month alone, teams from NYDLA attended CES2020 (180,000+) in Las Vegas and NRF2020 (40,000+) in New York.

Tomorrow, we expect around 400 people to attend a small event in NYC and then 4,000+ to attend an event at the New York Marriott Marquis on Tuesday.

New York City (bus)
Las Vegas (long flight)
Orlando (short flight)

Last month, the NYDLA co-sponsored the AI Summit at Javits Center. We had 5,000+ attend. 

But the story LEADING UP TO the AI Summit is interesting:

Late in 2019 I attended a "Lunch 'n Learn" at Morton's The Steakhouse in NYC. (Free steak? I'm in!).

The topic of the lunch was AI. How you engage with customers, to how you fundamentally operate an organization, AI is a catalyst to business transformation all over the world. Great speakers, great topic. And great steak. 

Hey Tom - are you attending the AI Summit in December?
Ah, what's the AI Summit?

Next thing you know, we are on the phone with the folks at AI Business. Next thing you know, we are inviting the NYDLA community to attend the AI Summit NYC at Javits. Of the 5,000 that attended the AI Summit New York, 237 attendees were via our membership outreach. And now, we are supporting the AI Summit London 2020 in June - and - the AI Summit New York 2020 in December. We are going to invite members to go "Across the Pond" with us, and make it a working / learning vacation: NYC & London. 

All of this from a free steak at Morton's The Steakhouse

Last week, I attended the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

From my home.

Via the power of Zoom, I was able to participate in sessions that covered the global economy, climate change, geopolitics and health. We're in a new economic era: Globalization. The meeting at Davos-Klosters is the foremost creative force for engnieering the world's top leaders in collaborative activities to shape the global, regional, and industry agendas at the beginning of each year.  This was the theme at Davos - from my home. 

It was NHL All-Star weekend in St. Louis for the past three days, and what a weekend it was.

Via our partnership with Geniecast, NYDLA members enjoyed the converation (live) with Wayne Gretzky and Blues CEO Chris Zimmerman. From any time zone, from anywhere in the world, technologies like Zoom and Workplace by Facebook enable live "events" both truly live (as in slice up a free steak live) and virtually via cloud technology. We should always skate to where the puck is going to be - not where the puck has been.

I live around 30 miles west of Times Square "as the crow flies" so I can leave my home and be in "The Big Apple" at The Javitz Center in less than 90 minutes, via a $12.25 bus fee and a 10 minute walk from PABT. Or, I can stay home and attend Javits Center hosted events, virtually. 

Event marketing, webinars, seminars, summits, Lunch 'n Learns.

Live or virtual, I think 2020 is indeed going to continue to be very...eventful.