Sunday, May 22, 2022

Time Square Rocks Hard

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This past week the helped Hard Rock International to "take the wrapper off" their new property Hard Rock Hotel New York. 

Other than Orlando and Las Vegas, no other city has more hotel rooms than THE BIG APPLE. 

When I first took over running the association over ten years ago, our first significant event was at the Hard Rock Café NYC. We chose that event location because it was in the heart of Times Square - and - it had an amazing technology powered venue. This was when doing TED Talks type events (live and livestreamed) were just starting to become a thing. It was easy to make the connection with technology, music, entertainment, and travel - and BUSINESS. 

Around ten years ago, we hosted folks from Skywalker Ranch - virtually to Hard Rock Café NYC - to talk to students about TBLS - Technology Based Learning Systems and the movie business. The technology of the day allowed for Lucasfilm to perform motion picture sound mixing and recording, animation and visual effects, sound, music and associated services - many miles away from Los Angeles or (any) big city.

While at lunch this past Tuesday, I was sitting at a table with a big guy named John. Big guy, big voice. And I overheard John say something something something "Mario Perillo" something something. I said, "Mario Perillo? You mean Mr. Italy? I sold Mario his 800# for his TV commercials around 20, maybe 25 years ago!" 

Turns out that Mario's son Steve Perillo (who I met so many years ago...) now runs the show at Perillo Tours, and they have launched a new company, Travel World VR. It is a virtual reality and 360 video sales/marketing/production company. They specialize in the rapidly growing role of virtual reality in marketing to promote and sell the travel experience. This past Friday we did a Zoom meeting with John, Steve and myself to learn all about their new VR company and - oh man - what a PERFECT FIT for the community! 

While in New York I also met the Director of Sales & Marketing for Hard Rock DUBLIN. Just that fast, we are working on a "cross the pond" event for to host an event with Trinity College Dublin, Ireland's leading university. and travel the world - live or virtually.

"OK, Google, how many hotels are there in New York City?"

"Good morning Thomas, there are over 700 hotels in New York City as of 2022."

Moving forward, all events shall be hybrid events. Moving forward, all meetings shall be hybrid meetings. Powered by tools like ZoomBlueJeans and many others, you can have hundreds of people LIVE (Live) in the room, you can have thousands of people LIVE (but virtually) and then MILLIONS of people watching the curated archives, like a TED Talk experience. 

"OK, Google, members going to be having hybrid meetings in NYC, but they are open to other locations and venues worldwide, what should we tell them?"

"Good morning Thomas - did you even read your own blog today?"


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Rolling University

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A master class is a class given to students of a particular discipline by an expert of that discipline - usually music, but also science, painting, drama, games, or on any other occasion where skills are being developed. 

Yesterday, my entire family attended a Master Class, held by Marshall Goldsmith.

Well, sorta.

We had around eight hours in the car this weekend. And I had the new Audible book, The Earned Life in my phone - and so - we (all of us) enjoyed having Marshall Goldsmith riding along with us. For eight hours.

There is something about an audio book, read by the author. Some people love the good old fashioned paper book, I get that. Me, I'm a big fan of Audible - but ESPECIALLY when it is a business book read by the author. It feels like they are speaking directly to me

My two sons graduated from Schools of Business. I am in business - I have been a serial entrepreneur since the 80s. I am also an executive coach, so I am a little bit in awe of Marshall, the "Coach of Coaches" if you will. 

We live in a multimedia, transmedia, omnimedia world. BOOKS have been around for thousands of years, especially if we count the ones that are carved in stone. As I write this Sunday's blog, I have CNN on my TV, I have three screens open on my computer, I have laptop, an iPad and a smartphone all turned on, and everything is displaying - something. Oh, I also have my Jabra wireless headset, listening to music.

Just as how "books" have been around for a very long time, so has distance learning. I always say that Distance Learning has become DIGITAL Learning, and now, it is all just DIGITIAL LIVNG. If you really want to get down into the weeds, the phonograph (or gramophone) was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison (we think). Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory made several improvements in the 1880s while Emile Berliner moved things from phonograph cylinders to flat disks. 

The disc phonograph record was the dominant commercial audio recording format through most of the 20th century. In the 1960s 8-track cartridges and cassette tapes were introduced as alternatives. In the 1980s phonograph use declined sharply due to the popularity of cassettes and the rise of the compact disk. And then came digital music in the 2000s. Ah yes, Napster, Spotify and the like. 

"OK, Google, how many podcasts are there?"

"Good morning, Thomas. In short, if you're asking 'how many podcasts are there', I think the right answer is more than 4 million, and not just what's in Apple."

I am one of the 4 million. Our (aka Coffee in the Clouds) video podcasts reach millions of eyeballs, because many times our show guests have millions of followers. Actors, authors, celebrities, entrepreneurs all "teaching everything they know" in a fireside chat style interview. And, whenever possible, we "gift" the books of authors to our global community, as a value-added member benefit. So everyone wins: the publicists, the publishers, the PR firms, the authors and of course, the growing NYDLA membership

And so, this weekend, our car was a rolling university with Marshall Goldsmith as the guest lecturer at  

In The Earned Life, Marshall teaches us how to live our own lives, not someone else's version of them. The key to living the earned life, unbound by regret, requires a commitment to a habit of earning and connecting it to something greater than the isolated achievements of our personal ambition. 

For many years my battle cry was "everything is distance learning" and people would say I was wrong. I would ask: Did you ever watch a TED Talk? Did you ever watch a Netflix documentary? Did you ever listen to a podcast? Very quickly I usually win the argument as I lay out the case for the Distance Learning > DIGITAL Learning > DIGITAL LIVING journey. 

My family got to meet Marshall Goldsmith this weekend. Again, sorta. Marshall rode along with us for 8+ hours in our rolling university. Sadly, he did not chip in for gas. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

“Mothers’ Day” with the apostrophe in the plural

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Heather Cox Richardson reposted her blog from two years ago regarding the history of "Mothers' Day" - with the apostrophe in the plural. A link to it is here and I sincerely hope that you read it and share it. 

When you hear the word "mother" do you first think of the noun, the verb or the adjective? 

A female parent. A woman in authority. Or, an old or elderly woman, like Mother Hubbard.

Necessity is the mother of invention. The mother of all construction projects. The mother of all ocean liners. To give rise to, to give birth to, to care for or protect like a mother. Birth mother, den mother, expectant mother. Mother country, mother figure, mother hen. Mother ship, mother tongue, queen mother. Single mother, surrogate mother, mother-in-law.

There is great power in the word mother. I think that power comes from the fact that if you are reading this blog, you have (or had) a mother. It is a word that unifies us all. A good friend of mine, Lee Cockerell, who ran Disneyworld with 40,000+ under his care, would say "Manage like a Mother." 

How many times have we heard that mothers are the true superheroes in our world? Multitasking masters, proper prioritizers, consummate communicators. And of course, the keeper of the snacks. Great managers, like moms, are natural leaders. They build a culture of trust, candor, and accomplishment. They have teams of people that love their jobs and feel lucky to go to work everyday. 

Moms (and managers) when seen in action, they seem a little magical. But it is not magic. A large part of their success as leaders is that they work hard on developing appropriate soft skills. And, in fact, many of the same soft skills that lend themselves to being a great mother are also what makes a great manager

The Mother of Soft Skills

Soft skills, defined as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and professionally with other people, are related to our attitudes and intuitions, which mothers are well known for. These skills are valuable because they enable people to function and thrive in teams and organizations as a whole. A productive and healthy work environment depends heavily on managers with great soft skills. Any workplace is an interpersonal space where relationships must be built and fostered, perspectives must be exchanged and occasionally, conflicts must be resolved.

Another good friend Loralyn Mears, PhD has recently launched Today, especially in our post-pandemic world, the mastery of soft skills is critical. Her company STEERus is the world's first soft skills academy. So, I guess one could say that Loralyn gave birth to right? 

Letters from an American is the newsletter from Heather Cox Richardson where she ties the day's news to events of the past. Her day job is a professor of 19th century American History at Boston College. But her newsletter (and now podcast) reaches millions of people. Her newsletter is her baby. 

Historians are fond of saying that the past doesn't repeat itself; it rhymes. To understand the present, we have to understand how we got here. 

Ah yes. How we got here. 

Well, we know one thing for sure: it all started with a mother.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

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May Day
, also called Workers' Day or International Workers' Day, is a day to commemorate the historic struggles and gains made by workers and the labor movement. It is usually observed in most countries on May 1.

So, May Day - a day that we reserve for fun springtime activities, like the maypole and picnics and golf and tennis - a day that kicks off summer with days at the beach and ice cream and such stuff, well of course that would be perfect for airplane pilots calling for help, right? 

Well. May Day is not Mayday, the internationally recognized radio word to signal distress. It is used mostly by aircraft and boats. How many times do we hear Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! on a TV show or movie.

Mayday first came to be in 1923. There was a lot of traffic between England and France in those days, and there were enough traffic (and disaster) problems over the English Channel that a good distress signal was needed. One that everyone could easily use and understand. And, there were some problems with using S.O.S. for the radio (voice) such as: 

S.O.S. was great with Morse code. But aircraft used the radio and a pilot would not have time to clarify to anyone that it was S as in Sam and not F as in Frank. A short, easily understood WORD that could not be mistaken for something else, was necessary. 

Mayday was the phonetic equivalent of "M'aidez", the French for "Help me." 

So, there was an RAF "flying boat" whose engines failed over the Channel. And the pilot shouted out M'aidez M'aidez M'aidez over the radio and that was it. It stuck. M'aidez becomes Mayday. In 1927 the United States formally adopted Mayday as an official radiotelegraph distress signal. 

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

Today is SUNDAY ("sun's day") and tomorrow is MONDAY ("the moon's day") and May Day is an ancient festival marking the first day of summer. International Workers' Day took over "May Day" but it is very different from the traditional May Day. 

These days, both workers (and pilots) needed saving. See the Haymarket Affair, also known as the Haymarket Massacre, The Haymarket Riot, or the Haymarket Incident. It began as a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour work day. 

So, on this SUNDAY we celebrate May Day and tomorrow will be MONDAY, where hopefully while at work - you do not feel the need to shout out Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! 

Now you must excuse me, I need to get ready to dance around the maypole. 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Book 'em, Danno!

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If you are not at least 50 years old or watch old reruns of Hawaii Five-O, the phrase "Book 'em, Danno" might not mean very much to you. This was the catch phrase of McGarrett, the leader of a fictional state police force in Hawaii, in a television show called "Hawaii Five-O." 

Generally at the end of most shows, McGarrett would instruct his sidekick, Danny Williams, to take the bad guy into custody by telling him to "Book 'em, Danno."

Ah, but - did you know - that "Hookem and Bookem" means handcuffing someone and booking them? In police slang, the term "hookem and bookem" means handcuffing someone and booking them into the system. 

The book 'em derives from the image of a judge sentencing a criminal to every penalty found in the books of law. To charge them with a particular offense; to inflict a severe punishment on them. The "book" is an imaginary book of rules or offenses and their prescribed penalties. The expression dates from the 1930s and is of American origin. 

I went down this rabbit hole today, about "Books" because I have been interviewing lots of authors lately. For many years, if you were a published author, that was a big deal. It was a big deal because it was expensive and very difficult to publish, sell and market a new book. If one of the "Big Five" like Penguin/Random House, Hachette, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, or Macmillan published your book, that was a very big deal indeed. And you would be right to brag on it. 

Today, to achieve "bestseller status" within a single Amazon category rather than overall of Amazon, all you have to do is hit the top of any subcategory for a brief moment in time, and chances are that you'll be awarded the prized orange button with the word "Bestseller", giving you legit bragging rights. 

The reason people aspire to call themselves "bestselling author" is because it dramatically increases credibility and personal brand. It can establish someone as a thought leader. But surprise - there is no certain number of sales that it takes to become a best seller. One author I interviewed became a New York Times best-selling author selling just under 3,000 books. 

Another author that I interviewed sold 20,000+ in the first week - and didn't make that same list. 

The job of an author is a weird one. There is a lot of pressure to do all kinds of things that have nothing to do with writing, or with delivering value to the readers you want to reach. Book launches can do weird things to people. They can cloud judgment. The title "best selling author" does NOT necessarily mean higher speaker fees, more consulting gigs, or more publicity around your brand, as many think it does. You can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to become a NYT best-seller. The ROI (most of the time) is simply not there. 

My wife and I just watched Julia on HBO Max. All about Julia Child's extraordinary life and her long-running television series, "The French Chef," which pioneered the modern cooking show. The HBO series explores a pivotal time in American history - the emergence of public television as a new social institution, feminism and the women's movement, the nature of celebrity and America's cultural evolution. 

How many copies of 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' have sold? 

1.5 million copies of the book when it was published in 1961. And now, in 2022, thanks to HBO Max, the sales are growing (again) and the book is (once again) back on the best sellers list. And - the same thing happened once before -  in 2009 - when the movie "Julie and Julia" was a hit, with Meryl Streep playing Julia Child. 

It all started with the PBS TV interview on "books" and authors being interviewed about their books. That was it - that was the TV show. And so, strong Julia Child book sales in the 60s gave birth to the Julia Child PBS TV show, which of course grew Julia Child books sales, which then gave birth to a Julia Child movie, which once again grew Julia Child books sales, which gave birth to (another) Julia Child movie, which.....

Wow. I just heard in my mind - in her high Julia Child voice..... 

"Book 'em Danno!" 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Easter Platypus

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Are you sure it was not an Easter Platypus?

Monotremes are mammals that reproduce by laying eggs. Their name comes from Greek and means "single opening," which refers to the fact that they have only one opening for both reproductive and waste removal purposes. 

Mammals that lay eggs are found only in Australia and New Guinea. 

So, what does the Easter Bunny have to do with Easter? The Easter Bunny origins are varied and go back centuries. How did the Bunny become the mascot of the holiest Christian holiday? And does the Easter Bunny actually lay eggs (ah, not a monotreme) or is the Easter Bunny just in charge of Supply Chain and Logistics? 


The history of the Easter Bunny has almost nothing to do with Easter beyond marketing. There aren't any mentions of bunnies, fluffy yellow chicks, baskets of goodies, or chocolate in the Biblical story of Easter, let alone in terms of the resurrection specifically. 

According to Time, the concept of the Easter Bunny stems from pagan rituals around the vernal equinox (the first day of spring). The pagan goddess of fertility, Eostre, was also symbolized by a hare and eggs. It is believed that when missionaries spread Christianity throughout Europe, they combined the pagan spring rituals with Easter and resurrection celebrations to make the transition from paganism to Christianity easier for new converts. 


In terms of the Easter Bunny's specific ties to the Christian holiday, German writings from the 1600s were reportedly among the first to mention an Easter hare. Called "Oschter Haws" the Easter Bunny was said to have left colorful eggs for good (get it, GOOD children) around Easter. And said GOOD CHILDREN would prepare "nests" for the eggs and leave carrots for the hare. German immigrants are believed to have brought the Easter Bunny tradition to the United States around the 1700s. 

Why is the Easter Bunny a Bunny and not a Chicken?

Despite Easter's association with eggs as a symbol of new life and the resurrection, the cute critter symbol of Easter being a bunny and not a chicken (or a Platypus) is no accident. The thinking behind the tradition was simply that rabbits reproduce A LOT, so as a symbol representing new life, rabbits took the edge over chickens. This pen-and-ink sketch is the earliest known American picture of The Easter Bunny, dated to around 1810, from Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. 

Easter 2022 is projected to be sweeter than Easter 2021. The National Confectioners Association (NCA) predicts that candy and confections sales for this year's Easter season will be 5% to 7% higher than last year, when sales topped $4 billion. 


More than 77% of people say they will absolutely or probably buy Easter candy this year. Easter beats Halloween. The Cadbury Easter Creme Egg is the most popular Easter Candy in 24 states, closely followed by Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs in 20 states. Egg-shaped chocolates are the top candy in 88% of the USA.

AND SO... The Easter Bunny got its start in the 18th century with German Lutherans who settled in Pennsylvania. "Oschter Haws" laid the eggs. Good children would get decorated eggs and other treats. Naughty children who did not behave would find rabbit pellets in their nests. 

I am happy to report that the Easter Bunny (not Platypus) made it to BOONTON USA this morning. Thankfully, nice little chocolate eggs. No rabbit pellets.  

My hand, Easter Morning 4/17/2022

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Did the Easter Bunny Jump the Shark?

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Today is Palm Sunday. This morning, I received a reminder about Easter in my inbox. Along with 101 Happy Easter messages that I might send out as a small business. 

I was reminded of THE IMPORTANCE of sending out a Happy Easter Message.

I was given a list of THE BEST Easter Greeting messages to send to employees.

And if I was uncomfortable sending a religious Easter message in a professional environment, I was given a list of Easter Greeting messages that don't focus on faith, Jesus, or Christianity. I was reminded that I can send funny Easter messages, or ones that reference springtime or the Easter Bunny. 

And, if I had a boss, I was given a list of possible well wishes and ways to show my appreciation to my boss. 

Easter Wishes: Best Business Messages for Clients

"Hoppy" Easter Messages to Send to Clients

Best Easter Greeting Messages to Send to Co-Workers

I was reminded that Easter offers the opportunity to share goodwill and gratitude with friends and family or colleagues and clients. That while Easter is a sacred religious festival for Christians, people of many faiths embrace the ancient celebration that welcomes spring. And I was reminded that if I was looking to engage colleagues and clients with a secular message or a religious one, there are Easter greetings to meet any criteria. 

Once again, THE IMPORTANCE of sending a Happy Easter message was made clear. That for Christians around the world, Easter celebrates the resurrection of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For many others, Easter commemorates the arrival of Spring and the renewal of life. Either way, sending Easter wishes messaging shows professional contacts, including co-workers, clients, and even management, that you recognize their faith and appreciate their role in your life. 

Easter spending in 2022 is anticipated to be the highest on record. Last year, consumers spent an average of $179.70 with nearly 79% of Americans celebrating the holiday (spending money) in some capacity. 

Personally, I have not been to a Catholic Easter Mass in many (many) years, but I do remember this:

  "We are an Easter People".