Sunday, April 18, 2021

I was just trying to yelp

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According to Merriam-Webster, a yelp is a sharp bark or cry (as a dog or turkey). To utter a sharp, quick shrill cry. Howl, scream, screech, shriek, squeal, yell. "The dog yelped in pain." 

And Yelp the company, which you can read all about here, has a complicated relationship with small business.

Yesterday, while visiting my son in Connecticut, we had take out from Carmine's. We went to their website to check out the menu, and to place an order for pick-up. 

The first thing my son said was: "Wow, they have 1,046 votes of 4.9/5 on Yelp."

He was impressed.

I find it funny how to me, being older, I associate Yelp with pain. I associate Yelp with a negative. If a customer or a consumer is yelping about something, they are not in their happy place. 

Facebook, Google, Tripadvisor all gave good to great reviews. As did Yelp. It appears that there were no Yelpers who were not Helpers. 

Here in my town of BOONTON USA there must be at least ten Pizzeria Restaurants - including a Domino's Pizza. And they all have Yelp reviews. If you want to see how mean Yelp reviewers can be, check out the reviews of Domino's in BOONTON USA. One jumped out at me:

"Seriously? We're not in the mid-West. There are AMAZING REAL Pizzerias up and down Main Street Boonton, and you order from Dominos? What are you, stupid?" 

Also this: Domino's Pizza (DPZ) stock is +1.84 at $394.83 as of April 16th 2021.

All of this got me to thinking about MY business, and the cloud, and telecom and technology. There are basically three carriers for 5G in the USA, and I sell them all. Need 5G for your business?  Well then, get www.5Gfor.biz thank you very much. 

There are around the same number of video conferencing companies in the USA as there are Pizzerias in BOONTON USA. And, I also sell them all. There is no secret (to anyone who knows me even a little bit) that I am a Zoomie. I love all things Zoom. But there is ALSO a time and a place for WebEx, or Microsoft Teams, or BlueJeans, and others. Or shall we say BlueJeans by Verizon now that Verizon decided to get into the Denim Jeans business (bad joke, sorry). 

What is Net Promoter Score you ask?

NPS is a customer loyalty metric that measures customer's willingness to not only return for another purchase or service, but also make a recommendation to their family, friends or colleagues. Is Zoom Video Communication's NPS of 62 considered to be good?

Yes, it is. Actually VERY good indeed. 

Net Promoter Score is a number from -100 to 100. Scores higher than 0 are typically considered to be good and scores above 50 are considered to be excellent

By the way, Yelp, Inc. has a Net Promoter Score of 3. But if you really want to be entertained, take a look at the Yelp reviews of...... Yelp. Pot, meet Kettle. Hey folks! If you like to complain about stuff, we built a company just for you! 

Call me old school, but I like to know what I am talking about before I speak. I first use (or eat) things, and then I have an opinion. And, I am happy to share what I picked up along the way, teaching everything I know to be true. At least, my version of the truth. To me, influencer marketing is great, celebrity marketing - not so much. 

And finally this: The Chicken Parmesan Sandwich at Carmine's Pizza & Take Out at 16 Main Street in Durham, Connecticut was AMAZING

[ But NOT as good as Top of the Park in BOONTON USA!!!! ]

And if you go to Top of the Park, ask Joe for THE CAPONE. 

Trust me. First-hand knowledge is always the best. 

The "CAPONE"









Sunday, April 11, 2021

Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed

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We all (now) know TED.com talks. Well, did you know that the original Technology, Education and Design "talks" were a flop?  You can read all about it here. The first event was financially unsuccessful; hence, it took six years before the second TED.com conference was organized. 

I wonder if the first TED.com talk was really a JED.com talk.....

The Beverly Hillbillies is an American situation comedy originally broadcast for nine seasons on CBS from 1962 to 1971. THE STORY: a poor backwoods family transplanted to Beverly Hills, California, after striking oil on their land. 

THE STORY by Paul Henning, was the first "fish out of water" theme. He also did Petticoat Junction, and then a REVERSE rags to riches story, for Green Acres. The show paved the way for later culture-conflict programs such as McCloud, The Nanny, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Doc. The Beverly Hillbillies ranked among the top twenty watched programs on television for eight of its nine seasons, twice ranking as the number one series of the year. A number of their episodes remain among the most watched television episodes of all time. 

It's not who has the best story. It's who tells their story the best. 

I started doing audio podcast interviews (Coffee In the Clouds) a few years ago. Why? Well, mostly because everyone was doing it and I did not want to be the only person on the planet without a podcast. 

Around five years ago, I met the folks at NARRASYS. I was blown away by their Story Telling Technology. From this, we met Jim Citrin who came out with The Career Playbook. I helped Jim to promote his book, because it was the right thing to do. The Career Playbook should be in the hands of everyone in their 20's, full stop. So, I wanted to help to promote it, no charge. 

I did not have any contact with Jim Citrin for around five years, until I learned of his NEW book, Leading at a Distance. I reached out to Jim, telling him that we should promote his new book to the 5.6M+ members of NYDLA.org via our new platform: ZoomTalks. You know, like TED.com talks, but on Zoom. 

It's not who has the best story. It's who tells their story the best. 

I love it when you reconnect with someone after years of silence, and you pick up right where you left off. I think that is magic. I think that proves the value of the relationships and the depth of the connections. You cannot fake that, it's real. 

Last week, I asked my friend Peter Onorati to "re-do" a video podcast interview, as the last one was audio only. Thanks to the power of Zoom, we broadcast LIVE from BOONTON USA to/from HOLLYWOOD USA. I think that everyone that Peter has known in his 30 years in Hollywood has now watched this Coffee In the Clouds interview. Or: "Hey, youse guys.....watch dis ting, don't make me tell ya twice....."

Jim Citrin knows...everyone. Seriously, that is not hyperbole. Jim leads the CEO Practice of Spencer Stuart, and with his 25 years at the firm, he KNOWS around 750 of the Fortune 1000 CEOs. As they say, show me your friends, and I'll show you who you are. Jim is now telling "his friends" all about NYDLA and ZoomTalks. Cool. 

It's not who has the best story. It's who tells their story the best. 

Born in 1960, I remember growing up thinking that Jed Clampett was REAL. I thought the ballad of Jed Clampett was real - and that you could get rich by shooting at some food. I thought that J.D. "Jed" Clampett, the son of Luke Clampett and his wife had a sister named Myrtle. I don't know how old I was when I figured out that Jed Clampett was not a real person. But I can sing the Ballad of Jed Clampett from memory, still to this day. 

Gotta love a good story - and - a good storyteller. Thanks again for the great memories, Paul Henning. 

You would have made a GREAT ZoomTalk.







Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed
Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed
Then one day, he was shooting at some food
And up through the ground come a bubbling crude
Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea
Well, the first thing you know old Jed's a millionaire
Kin folk said, "Jed move away from there"
He said, "California is the place you oughta be"
So he loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly
Hills that is, swimming pools, movie stars
Now it's time to say goodbye to Jed and all his kin
They would like to thank you folks for kindly dropping in
You're all invited back again to this locality
To have a heaping helping of their hospitality
Beverly Hillbillies, that's what they call 'em now
Nice folks, y'all come back now, y'hear?



Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Eggs for Adults

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Do you know what an Easter Egg is - in movies?

PAC-MAN in Tron

To put it simply, Easter Eggs are hidden references, clues or inside jokes that have been inconspicuously (and sometimes not so inconspicuously) placed into TV shows, video games, and movies. They're pretty much a creator's secret love letter to their fans, or in some cases an inside joke with fellow creators. 

Hidden treasures, hiding in plain sight are called Easter Eggs because they mimic the idea of an Easter Egg hunt to find them. If you have seen Ready Player One or read the book, you will know the significance of Easter Eggs

Star Wars Episode 1

I have to admit to this being my favorite Easter Egg of all time. In episode one, the action starts with a council meeting. The pods are discussing the state of the federation. If you pause the scene and scan around in one of the pods you can see E.T. and his family. 


Hidden Mickey Mouses

I could dedicate an entire podcast to hidden Mickey Mouse in films. In most Disney films Mickey Mouse appears. In Tron, it is in the shape of his head as they pass over a computer field. In Wreck-it Ralph he appears on a billboard in the background. Sometimes it is the full Micky Mouse and sometimes it is three circles in the shape of his head. This however from Toy Story is one of my favorite Easter Eggs. At the back of Andy's wall, he has a watch clock with the picture of Mickey Mouse. 


Raiders of the Lost Arc

This is a film that has many Easter Eggs and web pages dedicated to showing you where they are. There a large connection with this film and Star Wars and not the obvious, they both star Harrison Ford. At one point Indiana Jones is holding up a gold artifact, one of the hieroglyphs on it shows both C3PO and R2-D2. 

Yes, for as long as I can remember, I became obsessed with Easter Eggs. Sure I also love the delicious chocolate ones as well. But as an "adult" I have become fascinated with the hidden gems in films, games, and other media. 

Collect them and trade them with your friends!

The best, best, BEST thing about Easter Eggs, is that you can share them. The true POWER of Easter Eggs is in the sharing. When you find something of VALUE, when you discover something worth sharing, you cannot wait to do so with people that you care about. You want to teach everything you know. You want to pay it forward by sharing the tips, the tricks, the knowledge that can help the people that you care about to become successful, in business and in life. 

Frozen

OK, last one. If you have young children (or grandchildren) you can score big points with this Easter Egg. At Elsa's coronation as the guests are coming through the door two of the guests might look familiar. Both Rapunzel and Flynn can be seen entering the palace. In the scene, Rapunzel has short hair as seen in the final scenes of the movie Tangled


I hope you have enjoyed this little hyperlink powered Easter Egg hunt! 

And Happy Easter! 



Sunday, March 28, 2021

Very nice to meta you

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Kids use a new word now, "meta" that is actually a very old word. Meta is a word which, like so many words, we have ancient Greeks to thank for. When they used it, meta meant "beyond," "after," or "behind."

In its simplest form (today) a book in which a character is writing a book or a movie in which the character is making a movie can be described as meta. I am not totally sure, but I think Cosmo Kramer's Coffee Table Book about Coffee Tables was also meta. 

Having meetings to discuss how to have better meetings seems to be pretty meta to me. Having virtual meetings to discuss how to have better LIVE meetings - virtually - is meta meta, right?

Yesterday was a good day. My wife and I drove up to Madison, Connecticut to see our kids new home. I have two sons, both married, both are well on their way to their own adventures. We are very blessed that we are only a few hours away - or shall I say - only a few chapters of Audible away. Gotta love those books on Audible. Especially when read by the author.  But I digress. 

Around an hour after we landed at the new Connecticut version of Camp Capone, I had to jump on a Zoom meeting via my smartphone. Pre-COVID our "go to" location for LIVE meetings in NYC was the GATEWAY. Founded in 2018 by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce, it was the first and foremost Swedish chamber based outside of Sweden. The last "cool" live event we held before the COVID lockdown was at GATEWAY. 

Yesterday, the Deputy CIO of Zoom, and folks from BARCO and other NYDLA vendors and sponsors met both LIVE and VIRTUALLY on the 29th floor, right above the bustling streets of Midtown Manhattan. Today, every professional faces a new challenge, returning to work under COVID-19 measures. No handshakes, fewer in-person meetings and uncertainty of the future. But we are all determined to build back better. 

A few weeks ago, I flew for the first time in years. I took plenty of pictures of our NADLA WEST expansion tour. Yesterday my mind jumped to self-driving cars - and what is taking so long! I know that it is coming soon, but can you imagine sitting in a driverless electric car, making the zero traffic 93 mile trip from NJ to CT and working in the back seat the entire time? Or listening to Audible, or participating in an Zoom meeting - while heading to the LIVE/VIRTUAL hybrid meeting?

I don't know if yesterday was a perfect day, but it is in my top ten of the past 12 months. The only negative was traffic - and self-driving and/or AI assisted cars would eliminate traffic forever. 

When we drove to the beach (normally 12 minutes away) we had a three car caravan - and we were all on Bluetooth Speakerphone talking to each other in real-time during the ride. My son took us the "long way" to see the local sights. It turned into a guided tour - virtually - but very real. 


We are still building back better, and it will take time. But I truly feel that we are indeed going to be BETTER. Yes, Zoom became a verb because of the COVID WARS, but that future was coming anyway. Self-driving cars, AI, Internet of Things, eCommerce, all things "cloud" were already changing the world. COVID just made 10 years of stuff happen in 10 months. 

I am 100% certain in just a few years I'll be getting invited to a Zoom Chat, where ONE of my sons (or one of my new daughters) will say: "Hey Dad, can you and Mom baby-sit this afternoon?"  

And I will say "Sure, let me book a self-driving Uber, we'll be there in one hundred and four minutes, exactly."

Cosmo Kramer



Sunday, March 21, 2021

BYOB

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Flying again!

This past week was my first time flying in years. Most of the time, I would not have to fly for business - as I had "The Big Apple" in my back pocket. "Yeah, we could come to see you - hey - why don't you come here to NYC, and then we can see a show while you are in town." Almost never did someone say no to a trip to the New York Megalopolis. 

Now as we build back better, the Meetings and Events, and the Hospitality Industry are trying to come back. COVID has devastated businesses in many verticals, but the LIVE Meetings and Events world was brought to its knees. Our friends at Northstar Travel (SuccessfulMeetings.com) did a great job helping the industry, and we give them a tip of the hat. 

Now, there are lessons to be learned, for sure. We are now building back better. But as my grandfather used to say, "Don't try to build the snowman with one roll." 

This past week, NYDLA (now NADLA) opened up the West Coast market. We are now servicing all of North America. Not just the 55M+ people living, learning, working, playing in the New York Megalopolis, but the 579M+ people who are also trying to build back better after COVID.

Flying: American Airlines was great. Clean, on-time, no stress. I felt safer at the airport (and while on the plane) then while buying ink for my printer at a local Walmart. 

OK, here's the bad. The one-roll snowman analogy. 

We did a "FAM" visit with three properties in CA. I'm not going to name the brands, suffice it to say two of the three have a big "H" in their names. All three properties were clean, beautiful, and ready to "build back better" from the nuclear winter of COVID.

BYOB to me, used to mean "Bring Your Own Booze" or bottle. Well, now it means "Bring Your Own Bagel" unless you wanna pay $32 for a bagel with lox, and a glass of OJ (not fresh squeezed). And $6 for a cup of coffee and $6 for a glass of orange juice. Want more coffee? Refills are not free. How about a side of bacon: $6. A side of potatoes, $8. A slice of tomato, $3. With tip, breakfast comes in at $79.62. I remind you that round-trip NYC < > California on American Airlines was less than $500, taxes and fees included.

OK, I get it. A bagel with Shmear and Lox in NYC can cost you anywhere from $7 to $24. But when you normally eat at Einstein Bros. Bagels you know what stuff costs. And it's not $32 plus tip. And it was carry out, back to the room. So, what's with the mandatory tip? OK, moving on...

Don't even get me started on the pitcher of "Cuke Refresher" mocktail for $55. I asked, "what is in this?" LaCroix Pure Sparkling Water, cucumber slices, mint leaves, lime (squeezed for juice). No booze? That pitcher of cuke water will be fiddy-five dollaaz please, gratuity not included. Also this, tell people what things cost, up-front. First. No one likes surprise charges on a bill, ever. 

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

Hey Hospitality Industry: We are ALL trying to rebound from COVID. We are all trying to build back better - all of us, not just hospitality. We are all trying to reopen the economy. But people are not stupid. At least most people are not stupid. Don't try to recover the past year of financial loss on your "breakfast menu" or by selling poolside mocktails at huge markups. Don't charge $6 for a 6oz cup of coffee, and then charge $6 for refills of said cup. Don't try to make the snowman on one roll. 

And then.........

There was one venue that was amazing, no price gouging on the food, and an in-room fridge filled with FREE wine. And a cloth robe and beach shoes, to take home. Winner winner, chicken dinner......

I loaded the pics from our NADLA West Coast expansion tour here. It felt GREAT to fly again. It felt AMAZING to begin the process of building back better. But there are lessons to be learned on HOW to build back better. First, do no harm. 

Major take-home lesson: Don't charge someone from the "New York Megalopolis" way, way, WAY too much for a bagel and shmear. That's gonna trigger a blog every time....




Sunday, March 7, 2021

I'm no Art Fern

If you are old like me, you remember the Johnny Carson character Art Fern. 

Art Fern, the fast-talking host of a "Tea Time Movie" program, who advertised inane products, assisted by the attractive Matinee Lady was a parody of what NOT to do in sales. 

Art would always tell us "how to get to" the place of the thing he was selling. And always, we should drive until we come to the fork in the road. Like. Every. Time. 

And it was funny. Every. Time. 

At the time of this blog, I am told (checks notes) that there are more than One Billion people on the planet using Zoom Basic (free) service. And over the course of a month, there are hundreds of millions of people meeting daily on Zoom. During the COVID-19 pandemic, few companies seemed more poised to receive a usage bump than Zoom and its enterprise-grade video chat platform. Turns out that Zoom outpaced expectations. 

In the past 12 months, Zoom became a verb, and the world is indeed Powered By Zoom

There are many Zoom competitors, and then there are some companies to make the Zoom experience, better. I am no Art Fern, but one such company making the Zoom experience better is Zapkad

Zapkad is a FREE digital business card with unlimited storage and CRM built-in. It makes the Zoom experience better. When we met in person (like we did pre-COVID) we exchanged paper business cards. When we had live events (pre-COVID) at big venues, you might have had someone "scan" your badge. No one wants to lug around all that paper at a trade show, right? And why kill trees?

Today, when we host events and meetings on Zoom, we never shake hands - we never exchange cards. It's virtual. Zapkad saw the opportunity in the marketplace - and became a first-mover.

Yes, sadly, I am old enough to remember Johnny Carson's Art Fern. 

I am also old enough to remember the launch of iTunes and the launch of the Apple stores, and how getting "an app" approved in the online marketplace was the long play for Apple. The iPhone and iPad got its power from the genius of the apps. Zoom is taking a page out of the Apple playbook. Zoom is great, the apps that make Zoom better - that is the ride home for everyone. 

Zoom (and now Zoom Phone and Zoom Chat) has changed the world, full stop. And the OnZoom.com marketplace and companies like Zapkad will continue to create force multipliers of value. 


If you are reading this blog, there is a 99% chance that you already have a Zoom account (free, or paid). You should also get Zapkad. It's free, just like Zoom Basic. I did, I use it in all of my Zoom meetings, and it is a game-changer for me. When we go back to LIVE meetings, or hybrid meetings, I'll keep using Zapkad. 

Paper business cards are so pre-COVID.

Again, I am no Art Fern, but I do channel him from time to time. And don't forget, when you come to the Slauson Cutoff.....

Art Fern says www.GetZoom.us 



Sunday, February 28, 2021

I pity the fools

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways.

Are you on Clubhouse? Should I be on Clubhouse? Does Clubber Lang hang out on Clubhouse?

I grew up with the Rocky movies. My favorite (other than Rocky I) was Rocky III with Mr. T as Clubber Lang. Even though it was back in 1982 I can still hear James "Clubber" Lang quotes in my mind:

  • "Dead meat!" - Clubber Lang to Rocky Balboa.
  • "I want Balboa" - Clubber Lang.
  • "No, I don't hate Balboa, but I pity the fool, and I will destroy any man who tries to take what I got!" - Clubber Lang.
  • "Prediction?  Pain." - Clubber Lang.
I'm making the assumption that if you are reading this, you have already watched Rocky I, II and III. In Rocky III, the now rich and famous Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) triumphantly pummels a succession of boxing challengers until he encounters Clubber Lang (Mr. T). If you watch the opening montage of Rocky III, it becomes clear that while one fighter is enjoying the spoils of his success, the antagonist, Clubber Lang, has the Eye of the Tiger, and is working his ass off to dethrone Rocky. 

I guess my brain is hard-wired to associate "Clubhouse" with Clubber Lang. And guess what - now so is yours. You are welcome. 

As of this blog, I am NOT on Clubhouse. I really don't know what Clubhouse truly is, but people that I know are on Clubhouse. I am active on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I post pictures from time to time on Instagram. I think I activated a TikTok account many months ago. And I keep getting emails from Classmates, telling me that people I know from High School are looking for me. 

People. From. High. School. 

I am an Android guy, but I do have an iPad. It is my understanding that Clubhouse only works on Apple devices (for now). I am told that Clubhouse is a "social audio" platform that allows people to join "rooms" and listen in and sometimes participate in conversations about various topics (defined in the room's name). 

I am NOT on Clubhouse. Sounds like High School cafeteria to me. Sounds like people will experience clique type behavior, where the "cool kids" (and the cool kid wannabees) look down on the peasants. It sounds like, it feels like you are either one of the cool kids (moderators) or you will be struggling to be heard. 

I was wrong about Twitter. I was wrong about Skype (call me on a real phone). I started on Twitter back in around 2006, but never really used it. Today, Twitter is my "go to" platform. Should I be on Clubhouse? I am told not so much for marketing, but for networking, yes

OK, fine. Networking. But networking - with who? Do I really want to network with the great unwashed? Will they let anyone in this joint? 

And as life usually works, there are some people who are telling me "OMG! You need to get on Clubhouse!!!" But these are the same people who told me to get Google Glass, and Snap, and of course, TikTok. 

I asked my kids if I should be on Clubhouse. They had no opinion. 
That....does not bode well for Clubhouse. 

I live alone. I train alone. I'll win the title alone. ~ Clubber Lang

Trust Yourself. Find Your Passion. 

Who do you want to be? It's possible, and advisable in specific instances, to solicit the advice of others. But remember to develop a vision of what YOU want to become based on what makes YOU happy, regardless of the opinions and advice of others. 

Whether you are an athlete, a student, or a professional, to attain any degree of success, you need to have a vision of what you want to become. You have to decide what you want to be before seeking the path to success. Once you have a clear vision, you can assemble the steps to reach your goal. 

Having goals and a plan to reach them is paramount to achieving overall success, no matter how you define success. The plan is a critical component - the short-term goals along the passageway to reach the long-term goal. 

As of this blog, I am still NOT on Clubhouse. I live alone. I train alone. I'll win the title alone. ~ Clubber Lang. I don't think Clubber Lang would have been on Clubhouse. I have 17,000+ followers on LinkedIn, and add 10 to 20 every day. That feels better than random people in my random room. But hey, I'm not on Clubhouse, so maybe I'm wrong. Tell me: am I wrong? 

I am probably going to do a factory reset on my iPad and use it to go on Clubhouse. If I don't I'll feel like a hypocrite. So, I need to taste the food, if I'm going to be a food critic. 

But if Clubhouse, in anyway, is like High School, I'm not going to stick around. We all deserve the right to be heard. No one should ever feel discarded, left behind, no longer important, or never important to begin with. And all humans are working from the perspective of their own story. Their own journey. If the cool kids get to talk, and everyone else just gets to listen, I'll be soon kicked out of the Clubhouse club. 

I was wrong about Twitter, and Skype. I was not wrong about Classmates. Gee, I wonder if the founders of Classmates ever heard of this thing called Facebook? Ya know, the platform to connect with people... from High School? 

The Clubber Lang character was loosely based on a combination of Sonny Liston, Larry Holmes and George Foreman. Clubber Lang is not real - but the Rocky statue in Philadelphia is very real indeed. 

"OK, Google. How do I do a factory reset on my iPad?"