Sunday, September 15, 2019

A workplace for all of us



We had a problem. The NYDLA grew like crazy over the last seven years. It was a rocket ship experiencing exponential acceleration. Google this:

"When someone offers you a seat on a rocket ship"

NYDLA started out as a tiny association in New York City, focused on fans of the distance learning world. Well, distance learning has morphed into DIGITAL learning, and today, it is just DIGITAL LIVING. DL = Distance Learning > DIGITAL Learning > DIGITAL LIVING.

Ever watch a TED talk? Ever watch a NETFLIX documentary? How about YouTube? Ever use Uber, or stay at an Airbnb or buy anything (or buy EVERYTHING) on Amazon?

Want to talk about Telemedicine or Drones or Coding or Cyber security? How about Peloton or the new Mirror, for at-home live coaching and live personal training?

LinkedIn bought Linda.com (online education) and it became LinkedIn Learning. And then, Microsoft bought LinkedIn.

There are now 700,000 podcasts in the world and growing. Are podcasts not a version of distance learning?

How long ago was it that you first used Google or Facebook or Twitter? If you stop and think about it, it was only a few years ago that people were not really sure they needed a website for their business. And people were not really sure they needed a cell phone. Now, more than 50% of all Internet traffic is from a mobile device. 

So, in the years since my oldest son was born, the "DL" in NYDLA has morphed more than once. 

And in that same period of time the "NY" as in NEW YORK CITY also morphed into the New York Megalopolis. There are 55M+ people living from Maine to Virginia, that consider "New York" to be their home. I always see people reading the New York Times in LA, but I never see anyone reading the LA Times in New York. It's the Big Apple! 

New York "anything" became New York "everything" as the New York Megalopolis became the center of the known universe. 

Back to our problem: how did a small association like NYDLA go from servicing just a few thousand members to attempting to service the 55M+ people who are living, learning, working, playing in the clouds?


Facebook used "Facebook" to run....Facebook. They used an internal, private version of Facebook to run the company. Well this story is similar that of our friends at Basecamp. 

Basecamp was a home grown tool used internally by the webmasters at 37Signals in Chicago, to work with remote teams to build out websites. 37Signals customers and clients would say "Hey, that's cool....what is that? Can we buy it?" At first, it was no, this is just some tool we made to keep our remote teams connected. Well, over time, that home-grown internal project management tool became Basecamp, the #1 project management tool in the world

Facebook internal staff was using Facebook to run....Facebook. Big clients and customers of Facebook would ask if they too, could have a private version of Facebook for THEIR needs. And over time, this "private" version of Facebook, became Workplace by Facebook

I don't have time to cover the past three or four years of metamorphosis of Workplace by Facebook. Suffice it to say, that if you are in business (of any size) you are going to be checking out Workplace by Facebook. If you are a school, if you are a college or university, if you are an NGO, if you are a public company, a private company, if you are a team of 5 or 500 or 5,000 or 50,000 or 500,000...... you are going to be checking out Workplace. It changed our lives at NYDLA, and I think it will change yours.

Workplace has allowed the NYDLA to service not only the 55M+ people living, learning, working, playing in the New York Megalopolis, but also - Workplace powers global digital transformation.  This past Friday I spent the day at Facebook NYC (where else, right - NEW YORK!) to discuss the future of work, the future of education, the future of global collaboration.

NYDLA.net (dot net) shall soon be powered by Workplace, basically making the global scalability and growth of the NYDLA community, limitless. I could go on WABC Talk Radio with their new owner, our friend and billionaire John Catsimatidis and tell everyone to "go to NYDLA dot net" and we're good. Workplace can handle anything we throw at it. Workplace could handle a Super Bowl ad, driving traffic to NYDLA.net

Worldwide, there are well over 2 Billion users on Facebook. The Workplace by Facebook (private, no ads) network uses the same infrastructure. Workplace SCALES. 

We could have an NYDLA event "live" on the INTREPID, with 50 people attending in person, 5,000 attending remotely, and 500,000+ watching the archive of the event. Workplace allows for global, unlimited synchronous and asynchronous collaboration and communication. 

Over the next several months, we shall be training and certifying dozens (hundreds?) of NYDLA Workplace "Ambassadors" to empower our members to fully embrace the power of Workplace. Soon, mastery of Workplace shall be like mastering WordPress. It will look great on a resume. 

We expect that many of the members of NYDLA will want "their own" Workplace, just like the big customers of Facebook.

Fantastic! Via NYDLA we shall help them to make their own Workplace experience all that it can be. After all, "NYED-LA" (that's what they call us these days) is Workplace, and Workplace is us.

Google wanted to organize the world's information. 

Facebook wanted to give people the power to build community, bringing the world closer together. 

And now: Workplace by Facebook - because anything is possible when people work together.
Join the NYDLA.org 





Sunday, September 8, 2019

Starting a Podcast? First Get Messy

Back in March of this year, I did a blog on podcasting. Since that time, it seems like the already exploding podcasting world has now shifted in to supernova mode.

Molly Beck was paying attention.

There is a very good chance that you have an idea for your own podcast. It could be a podcast about sports, or cooking, or business. But you might never take your idea for a podcast and give it life, because it seems too hard. Where do you begin? How do you do it? 

Molly Beck launched, built, and grew Forbes Podcasts. She had the idea that creating and launching a podcast should not be so hard. Why can't someone record, edit, publish, and monetize their podcast, as easy as writing a blog? 

Enter Messy.fm the web-based software that allows anyone of any technical level play with the big guys in the world of podcasting. Think of Messy.fm as WordPress for podcasting.

Molly's first investment round for Messy was led by Randi Zuckerberg, the former director of market development for Facebook. So far, thousands of podcasters have created tens of thousands of episodes using Messy. 

It was August 23rd (16 days ago) that I met Molly Beck on LinkedIn. We then had a Zoom meeting, and yesterday (Saturday) we met in NYC. And just like that.....

Messy.fm is a now a member benefit of NYDLA.org. 

Join the NYDLA - and get Messy as part of your paid membership. Done.  

Whether you want to launch a new podcast or improve an existing podcast, Molly and her team (and her technology) will get it done for you. Anyone can (and should) make a podcast. But most people won't because they are afraid, or they feel like they will fail. 

I remember when people would say: "Do I really need a website?" or "Do I really need a blog?"

In today's world, not having a podcast will be the same as not having a website. The people who get into podcasting now will be the ones that build an audience and make it the centerpiece of their company or brand. 

NYDLA.org members shall now benefit from the Messy.fm platform - and - from the body of work of industry experts like Molly Beck, Randi Zuckerberg, and others. 

Podcasting has gone mainstream. From history buffs, to business experts, to comics, everyone has a podcast these days. But the market is just getting started. There are 165 million podcast listeners and slightly more than 700,000 podcasts being updated all the time. 

Randi Zuckerberg and her longtime business associate Natasha Lewin launched a silly, yet surprisingly dark, family friendly podcast on Messy.fm re-telling classic fairytales, with contemporary themes like politics, gender, and the tech world. 

So: yesterday my wife and I took the bus to The Big Apple for a Saturday day trip to meet Molly Beck (and her Dad). And we met a few people in the "Messy Posse" - people who are rocking the podcasting world via the Messy.fm platform.

As soon as possible (this month) Molly and I will record a "NYDLAcast" and blast it out to the millions in our community. I'll let Molly tell the story behind her company name - but it was not always...Messy. For now (until we get NYDLA.org updated) you can just send an email to Messy@NYDLA.org and we'll take good care of you. 

I'll leave you with a teaser on the Messy name: Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs had messy desks. Just like most other geniuses. 

So if you ARE going to have a podcast - it should be a messy podcast. 

The Messy.fm Posse
(that's me on the couch)













Monday, September 2, 2019

Sounds Laborious

I love words. When you look up the word Labor and find "Laborious" you see synonyms like: arduous, hard, heavy, difficult, strenuous, grueling, murderous, punishing, onerous, burdensome, back-breaking, trying, boring, demanding.

Back-breaking? 

There is a well-known slogan in the labor movement: "Unions: The Folks Who Brought You the Weekend."

It might be a slight exaggeration, but this much is true: Unions brought us the three-day Labor Day Weekend that is considered the end of summer in the USA. Unions celebrated the first Labor Day in New York City on the first Tuesday in September 1882. By 1894, they persuaded an additional 23 states to celebrate the holiday. And on June 28, 1894 President Grover Cleveland made it official: The First Monday in September of each year is a national holiday.

Yet today, membership in America's once mighty labor movement is in decline.

  • Most union members live in California, with 2.4 million people in a union. The Golden State is followed by New York, with 1.9 million union members.
  • More than half of the 14.7 million union members in the U.S. live in just seven states: California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington.
  • Men continue to have higher union membership rates: 11.1 percent compared to 9.9 percent for women.
  • In the public sector, union membership rates are highest in local government, at 40.3 percent. Heavily unionized occupations include police officers, firefighters, and teachers. Private sector industries with high unionization rates include utilities, transportation, warehousing, and telecommunications. 
Labor Day started as a protest against shoddy and unsafe working conditions and long hours. But it has also had a long tradition of end-of-summer revelry. By the time the second Labor Day rolled around in New York City, the parks, the shops, and the bars of The Big Apple were teeming with people. 

Today, there are a growing number of regions around the country where there are labor shortages.

Businesses literally cannot find the workers they need to operate their business. 

Labor Day: a day to celebrate the workers who built America and the labor movement that rose up to protect workers from abusive labor practices. And now it is worth noting that we don't have enough labor in our country right now. Some of this results from the strong economy which is 10+ years into an expansion. Some of this results from restrictive immigration policies. 

Regardless of the cause, we have an abundance of capital and a shortage of labor in the U.S. economy right now. 

That makes it difficult to operate a business and even more difficult to expand. And this shall force business to automate. Automation (AI, bots, machines, etc.) can solve some of these issues. I expect we shall see more automation in an environment where capital is available to fund investments and labor is very tight.

SO: we have a choice. Do we want more robots or more people? How much longer should we maintain a restrictive immigration policy? I believe we should have more legal immigration in the United States. We have labor shortages and there are many talented people who would like to come here and live and work. If we are not going to allow people to do the work, then it shall be left to the robots. But the work will get done, one way or the other. 

I am fortunate to know Adam Grant and Simon Sinek

When you meet someone new, don't ask "What do you do?" as this limits what people share about themselves to a job description. Instead, try "What do you love to do?" It ignites and invites people to express their distinctive interests. ~ Adam Grant

Our passion lies deep in who we are, not what we do. ~ Simon Sinek

Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history's most dismal chapters. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts. Something had to give, right?

Folks, change is coming. Big time. 

Nature abhors a vacuum. This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature and physics. 

We have an abundance of capital and a shortage of labor in the U.S. economy right now. Something is going to fill the vacuum of those unfulfilled jobs, either with people, or robots, or some combination of both. Big money will not allow that job and labor vacuum to exist for long. 

Labor Unions are in decline. Technology and automation of labor, especially having robots and AI (Artificial Intelligence) doing repetitive tasks is increasing. Labor Day, first and foremost, is a celebration of the working people who keep the gears of American commerce turning like they should be. 

But the gears of American commerce are moving to the cloud, away from the factories, away from the farms, and away from the mines. I predict that within our lifetime, we shall see a "new" Labor Day.

A Labor Day for robots and their owners. 


After all, where would Luke Skywalker be without R2-D2? 

We experienced the Agricultural Revolution, then the Industrial Revolution, and now we are living - the Digital Revolution. 

And this one shall be the biggest of them all. 

Then: What do you do?

Today: What do you love to do?

Tomorrow: What does your robot love to do?










Sunday, August 25, 2019

North Star Objectives

North Star Objectives are long-term, high-level, aspirational goals that motivate, inspire, and uplift the goal-setter. Think of them the way that sailors view the North Star: a way to stay the course, no matter where you are.

Dogs are cool.

In business, the idea is to identify the organization's overall purpose and ambition - the North Star by which it is navigating - as well as stakeholder promises, guiding beliefs about the future, and strategic assets.

I love dogs.

Vision serves as a unifying focal point for everyone in the organization - like a North Star. In fact, your vision statement needs to be something you can achieve at some point in the future. You need to see it, feel it, and believe that it will come true.

Have I mentioned dogs?

In many areas of the country, especially in the South, the situation for animals is desperate. Chained outside and starving, homeless and running loose, or just simply no longer wanted and abandoned in an overburdened and underfunded facility that simply cannot take another animal, there is little hope. They need a miracle. These animals can look to the night sky for the North Star, their only way out.

North Star Pet Rescue was founded in 2017, a New Jersey volunteer-based, 501(c)(3) all breed animal rescue, focused on saving at-risk dogs from overcrowded animal shelters.

I live in Boonton Township, New Jersey. I learned of North Star and I immediately made the connection with their name, and how their name resonated with me from a business owner's perspective.

From North Star's website, I learned about Adopt-a-Pet.com (formerly 1-800-Save-A-Pet.com) which is North America's largest non-profit pet adoption website. They help over 17,000 animal shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, pet rescue groups and pet adoption agencies advertise their homeless pets to millions of adopters a month - for free.

Via the power of the Internet, these groups connect adopters with shelter pets and help pets to go from alone to adopted. They also provide useful and informative information on the human/companion animal relationship to help keep pets healthy and permanently in their loving homes. They have blogs and a YouTube channel with useful pet training tips, as well as entertaining videos, all produced by experts and professionals in animal training and behavior, as well as human psychology.

Pause here. Stop.

How does this blog make you feel so far? What brain chemicals are firing in your cerebral cortex at this moment? And did you know that the cerebral cortex is the most important part of our brain (at least in the field of psychology) because it is what makes us human.

Where are you going with this Tom???

If you can find your North Star in business, everything changes. If people (your customers, your clients, your vendors, your suppliers) can "feel" your North Star deeply and clearly, your success is guaranteed.

Travelers and explorers have always relied on Polaris, the North Star, to navigate long before the era of GPS. It has a unique position and constant visibility providing the direction of true north. It was dependable, it was reliable, it was a given.

We're Pet Lovers Trying to Make a Difference. 

Finding Homes for Homeless Pets is What We Do.

Simple. Clear. Powerful.

So: What is your North Star?




Sunday, August 11, 2019

FANOCRACY

In printing and publishing, proofs or galleys are the preliminary versions of publications meant for review by authors, editors, and media review publicists. Many years ago, I received a galley proof of Start With Why for my review.

When I learned that Simon Sinek was doing a book signing in NYC in July of 2011, I told my two sons to "get in the car" because we're going to the city. WHY? they asked. 

"EXACTY!" I said.

Meeting Simon changed my life. Over time, I thought about the WHY movement, and how it was like electricity. You don't "invent" electricity. You "discover" electricity, as it was always there, hiding in plain sight. Ah, but how to harness and utilize electricity as a tool for mankind, that is indeed the magic. The concept of WHY and its power was always there - just like electricity. The power of WHY was always waiting to be discovered, hiding in plain sight. We have Simon to thank for sharing it with the world. Inspiring, indeed.

The next thing I knew, I was hooked. I became part of the WHY movement. I would "present" and teach and evangelize the principles of the Golden Circle. When I would be asked to speak at a college, university or professional association, my presentation would always begin with WHY. Rutgers University alone, has 500,000+ living alumni. I know for a fact that their School of Business put Start With Why on the must-read list. So did Quinnipiac, so did UCONN, so did PURDUE, so did.....

And now, it has happened again. 

I just caught lighting in a bottle, again.

I met David Meerman Scott on LinkedIn (June, 2019). I said to myself, "Wow, this guy would make a great keynote or video podcast for the millions in NYDLA.org community!" 

So of course, I reached out to David. We did a Zoom meeting. We clicked. We had a follow up meeting. Sparks were flying. We know so many of the same people. I learned that David had a new book coming out in January, 2020 that (in his words) is his best work to date. FANOCRACY.  

Fandom is not just for actors, athletes, musicians, and authors anymore. It can be rocket fuel for any business or nonprofit that chooses to focus on inspiring and nurturing true fans. The most powerful marketing force in the world isn't social media, email blasts, search ads, or even those fifteen-second commercials before YouTube video. It's fandom. 

David's publisher sent me a galley proof for my review. (Oh baby, here we go again....)

The foreword of the book is by Tony Robbins. Yeah, that Tony Robbins. He says, "The core strategy behind any remarkable organization - one that dwarfs the competition and creates massive customer loyalty - is to provide so much value that customers can't help but share their enthusiasm and excitement. Fanocracy is breaking new ground. It is a deep dive into the strategies to build a powerful culture that drives business success. The book has ideas that you can implement immediately, such as letting go of your work and allowing people to make it their own, seeing the world as a gift and giving gifts in return, and celebrating your customer's stories". 

Here is my review of FANOCRACY. Simon Sinek's book Start With Why changed my life. David Meerman Scott (and his daughter Reiko Scott) wrote a book that IS my life. The key to a "fanocracy" is an organization that puts the needs and wishes of fans ahead of every other priority. It is not easy to focus on intangibles like community, generosity, and fun, rather than maximizing profits on every interaction. Those who apply the strategies in Fanocracy are more likely to dominate their categories. And beyond the financial benefits, fanocracies spread more joy and inspiration to the world at large. 

David has agreed to doing a video podcast series for the NYDLA community. Although the book does not come out until January, 2020 you can sign up for their amazing newsletter and - preorder the book, and all members of NYDLA shall receive the book for FREE. I'll personally give you a credit to your NYDLA account, just email Fanocracy@NYDLA.org

See? Here's proof that I read David and Reiko's book! 

Why do some brands, even supposedly boring categories like car insurance and enterprise software, attract not just customers but raving fans?  It's simple: they Started With Why and then, they created a Fanocracy

And so can you.

My Challenge Coin from Simon Sinek


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Heads I do the hard thing

"What are the odds that you will be coming home?" Wow.

I have two amazing sons. I think that the special purpose of any parent (or leader) is to teach everything you know.

When they were young, from time to time, my boys would come to me with a problem. The classic, "I don't know what to do" question that we all have experienced in our lives. When I was growing up I learned a lesson from my father, that I was happy to pass on to my two sons.

Which of the choices would be harder to do? 

If it truly is a toss up, if you really could flip a coin, which would be HARDER, the more DIFFICULT thing to do?

Do that. Because if the options are truly equally good or bad, doing the thing that is more difficult will give you more satisfaction, more joy, and ultimately provide more reward for you - and for others.

When you are torn between saying yes or no, when you swing between staying or going, doing or not doing, taking the leap or staying put - simply ask yourself - which would the more difficult thing to do? 

Last night (on July 20th, 2019) we all watched "First Man" the movie about NASA's mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on the years 1961 - 1969. I was born in 1960 and I know EXACTLY where I was when Neil Armstrong stepped off the LEM. Now let's reflect.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_choose_to_go_to_the_Moon

What if JFK never gave his speech at Rice University on September 12th, 1962?

OF COURSE it was going to be hard - and very EXPENSIVE. The technology required to go to the moon did not even exist. We were at war at the time, and there were PLENTY of things that needed attention and money back home. JFK gave that speech because most people at the time were against the mission. Too expensive, and too difficult. Too......hard.

People were going to die along the way. There would be setbacks. There would be tragedy, and pain and suffering. And yet, the Leader of the Free World set us on a path to do the hard things. Because they were hard.

We, all of us, are humans. Effectively, we are all some form of smart monkeys. Our brains are hard-wired for survival. It's hard to pass on our genes if we don't live long enough to find a mate. Taking risks seems to be against our primary mission of survival.

And yet, there is something in our smart monkey brains that pushes us to do risky things, dangerous things, difficult things - hard things. In fact, our entire purpose seems to be to explore, to take risks, to do things that are SO HARD, and so difficult, that they change our lives - and the lives of our future generations forever.

And there it is. Taking risks - doing hard things - actually ensures the survival of our future generations. Doing hard things is the right thing to do, always. When we say to ourselves "I don't know what I should do" our smart monkey brains are lying to us. We actually know exactly what do to. We know the right answer. We just pause to see if there is a shortcut, an easy way out. Hint: there is none. The obstacle is the path. We don't control what happens to us, we control how we react to what happens to us. Stoicism. 

What is the next BHAG for our country? Or how about the next BHAG your family? Your business? What is the next BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS THING that you shall choose to do - BECAUSE it is hard?

OK, fine. If you MUST flip a coin:

Heads - do the hard thing.
Tails - keep flipping until it comes up heads......

President Kennedy's BHAG Speech at Rice University





Sunday, July 14, 2019

Must Love Dogs

Last week, I was invited by a friend to a VIP event in NYC. It was the grand opening of a bank branch, their first in New York City. It was a bank that at this point, I never heard of.

I had no reason to be in New York City on that day. This would be a special trip to the city. After vacillating back and forth, I agreed to go to the event. You would think that by now I would have learned my lesson: when you get invited to something, especially a VIP event, you go.

Last year I was invited to present at the NYC WordPress Users Group. Even with 30,000 members, they had no budget for a speaker. I would be doing this event for free. Including paying for my own transportation.

Well, I do love public speaking. When it comes to public speaking, some people would rather be in the coffin than to be giving the eulogy. For me personally, I tend to be mortally offended if I don't get my turn with a microphone.

So, I did the gig for free. It turns out that someone in the room liked what I had to say. It turns out this person was very close with John Catsimatidis, an American billionaire businessman and radio talk show host. John just recently purchased WABC Radio. And all things "media" (especially podcasts) is a big part of the NYDLA community.

It was that same WordPress friend that invited me to last week's Republic Bank grand opening event. I almost didn't go. But I do love dogs. And I'm a big fan of Tom Peters, the co-author of In Search of Excellence. Tom was connected to Vernon and I am connected to Tom and he said quickly and with conviction: GO.

Vernon Hill is the founder of Metro Bank UK and Commerce Bancorp. Hill founded Commerce in 1973. It became the fastest growing bank in the US before being sold for $8.5 billion. Vernon is also the Chairman of Petplan.

I don't have the time to tell the entire story of what happened last week, but things are now moving very fast. As of today, Republic Bank has one branch in New York City. And the NYDLA shall be hosting "Sunset Seminars" at the branch for our entrepreneurial members. Something tells me there will be other branches opening in The Big Apple. Many. I see the pattern of success - it will be fun to watch it unfold.

I read Vernon's book this weekend. I could not put it down. Vernon describes how to create growth companies by building FANS! Not Customers with:
  • A unique and value-added MODEL
  • A persuasive and supporting CULTURE
  • Fanatical EXECUTION
From 1973 to 2007, Vernon led the growth of Commerce Bank from 1 to 440 stores with a 30+ year, 23% per year compounded shareholder return. Vernon says: "Give the customer legendary service, and one day your company will be a legend, too. BE ALL YOU CAN BE."

I will be telling everyone that I know to check out Republic Bank. And until further notice, everyone who joins the NYDLA.org shall be getting a free copy of Vernon's book FANS! Not Customers - How to Create Growth Companies in a No Growth World. 

But to be totally honest, Vernon had me at loving dogs. 

And kids......they also love kids. <<<