Sunday, September 19, 2021

Lend me your ear

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

What does lend me your ear mean?

The phrase "lend me your ear" is interpreted to metaphorically mean that the speaker wants the listener to grant the speaker temporary control over what the listener hears. 

To ask for someone's full attention. To listen to someone carefully. To pay attention to what someone is saying or teaching. To listen to someone with concentration or understanding. 

The Van Gogh Immersive Experiences are real-life or virtual reality (VR) exhibits of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings. The for-profit events range across venues, cities and organizers, though the majority are being held in North America in 2021 and 2022. 

The events are typically set up in large gallery spaces. Images or videos of the artist's works are projected onto walls, ceilings, and floors. Sometimes accompanied by animations, narrations, music or fragrances. 

This past Friday was my first time using Virtual Reality (VR) for an extended period of time. VR, a simulated experience that can be similar or completely different from the real world is pretty amazing. But is truly nuts when used for more than a few minutes. Kids today (damn, I'm old) think this is totally normal. Anyone near my age realize how game-changing this is, and how THE FUTURE is right around the corner. 

Just like anything else, things happen slowly, then all at once. Over the years, applications of virtual reality included entertainment (e.g. video games), education, (e.g. medical or military training) and business (e.g. virtual meetings). 

I remember playing video games with my brother-in-law in the 80's. We had a blast (there was beer involved) but the quality of the graphics then vs. today is like comparing a chalkboard to an 80" HD SAMSUNG. 

Launched in 2012, Oculus was bought by data-hungry tech giant Facebook for $2.3 billion in 2014. At the time, Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey said you would not need a Facebook account to use Oculus. And now, Oculus for Business eliminates physical barriers and provides powerful new ways to connect, collaborate, and learn.

Slowly, then all at once. Gradually, then suddenly. But all change happens only when something is experienced DEEPLY enough to make a difference. 

I could have bought an Oculus years ago, but did not. If I did not experience the Van Gogh Immersive last week, I would have probably started using Oculus in the next 12 to 24 months, due to my partnership with Workplace from Facebook. I would have "had" to do it, just so that I know what I am talking about for my job.

Today, now, I WANT to do it. I want to use Oculus, all the time. Daily. Friday was this tipping point. The "Ah Ha" moment where I was thrown in to the deep end of the pool and had to swim. Now, today, I want to be deeply involved in the new technology. Because we are all living, learning, working, playing - in the new cloud (VR) economy. 

Gradually, then suddenly. I have now arrived at Suddenly Station. 

You can learn more about how VR is transforming business here. Don't be surprised if you see Oculus for Business in page one of next month. Slowly, then all at once. 

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears" - VR is transforming business. 

Now. Today. Every day, the Internet is getting FASTER, and of course, VR headsets will continue to become smaller, lighter, less expensive and as popular as a smartphone in your pocket. 

I wonder if Vincent Van Gogh ever said that. 

You know, "Lend me your Ear" 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

The Greatest Bar On Earth

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I think that the day after an event is always more important than the actual event. Any event. All events. When you wake up the day after, and think to yourself - did that really happen? 

July 4th 2000 was the last time we had an event at Windows on the World. We would have our monthly BoD meetings there, I became very friendly with the staff of both the restaurant and the bar. The July 4th celebration in NYC that year was a big deal for me, for our company. We rented out the restaurant, and the bar that day. We invited our VIP clients and vendors to come to The Big Apple, to come to the 107th floor to celebrate with us. My boys were young, but they were old enough to realize that this event, this holiday was something special. During the day, we watched the "Tall Ships" coming into the harbor. At night, we watched the fireworks, by looking DOWN at them from The Greatest Bar On Earth. We all sang patriotic songs - words and music was supplied. 

We learned later, that the 9/11 attack was supposed to be during July 4th, 2000. It was supposed to be while we were all in NYC. They just could not pull it off, so it was "rescheduled" to 9/11/2001. 

I once asked a very good friend and mentor - what would he have done different. He is a little older than me, and very successful. Suffice it to say, he wants for nothing. I asked "what would have done different, what do you wish you said yes (or no) to in your past? He did not answer right away, he said he wanted to think about it.

For me, 20 years feels like 20 days. NYC was my playpen, or so it felt. I was selling car phones since the 80's but there were no smartphones. Monthly phone bills could be hundreds - even thousands of dollars. NO ONE used Skype, because the quality was poor. No tablets, laptops were heavy and very expensive. 

20 years ago, the Internet was very young. No podcasts, no YouTube, no TikTok. Audio conference was still around $0.10 per minute per person - and videoconferencing was for the Fortune 1000. There was no alternative currencies. 

The day after 09/11/2021 - today - is just like any other day. Every other day over the past 20 years. 

If my mother did not have cancer, I would have never met my wife - my mother's nurse. If COVID did not happen, or if COVID was only discovered earlier, quarantined earlier, if COVID did not leave China. What if we (still) had NO vaccine yet for COVID? What if our only defense was masks and social distancing, as of today? One recent vaccine used a new technology surrounding mRNA (basically gene therapy) that was completely science fiction 20 years ago. Now, today, we are using mRNA to shrink cancer tumors. 

Today, El Salvador decided to use BTC as a currency because their national currency had been massively manipulated, and they wanted something more stable, more measurable and meaningful. And now artists are using NFTs, which are creating a whole new way of collectibles for people to trade or share. 

Today, Zoom is a verb, allowing people to stay in touch with family and friends and work during a global pandemic. For years, technology was changing the way that we live, learn, work and play. But it took a global pandemic to force the entire world to rethink - well, to rethink just about everything

It is really easy to go down the rabbit hole of what ifs. What if Al Gore won, and not George Bush? What if COVID was crushed and contained? We shall have many questions about Climate Change, and AI, and Internet of Things. What if Trump was still POTUS - or what if Trump was NEVER POTUS? 

My friend and mentor did get back to me with an answer, about what he would have done differently. He said - nothing

Because changing anything would have changed everything. It is like the ultimate Butterfly Effect, that even the smallest change is actually the biggest change possible. 

Me: So, there is NOTHING that you would have done differently - nothing at all?

He: Nope. I would have made all the same decisions again. Because changing anything would change everything. Well, maybe one thing. Even though I would have done it all the same way - I might have been a little nicer while doing it. 

If my mother never got cancer, I would have never met Dianne. If my mother never got cancer, I would have stayed at PURDUE, and probably have gone to medical school, as planned. If my mother never got cancer, there would be no Tommy and Bobby Capone. 

The only lesson that I think worth teaching is this: you never know what the future holds. There are no small decisions. But kindness and empathy will always be the best way. You might not always get it right, but you can always be nice along the way. Be nice, and enjoy the journey. 

"Living in dreams of yesterday, we find
ourselves still dreaming of impossible
future conquests." ~ Charles Lindbergh

Sunday, September 5, 2021

I'll give you three guesses

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What's up with things of three?

Three strikes. The Three Stooges. A trio of friends. Three: ring circus, coins in a fountain, feet in a yard, wise men, goals in a hat trick. Three: legs on a stool, minute egg. Paper, Rock, Scissors. The good, the bad and the ugly. The three wishes from a genie. 

The three wishes joke (or genie joke) is a joke format in which a character is given three wishes by a supernatural being, and fails to use the best of them. Common scenarios include releasing a genie from a lamp, catching and agreeing to release a mermaid or magical fish, or crossing paths with the devil.

Such as: Three men stranded on a desert island, when a bottle washes up on the shore. When they uncork the bottle, a genie appears and offers three wishes. The first guy wishes to be taken to Paris. Poof! Done! The second guy wants to be in Hollywood. Poof! He is now standing on a movie set in Tinsel Town. The third guy, now all alone on the island, looks around and says, "I wish my friends were back."

This would be a good place to stop, look, and listen. 

Tomorrow, is Labor Day here in the USA. So, today is Day Two of a Three Day Weekend. 

Is there anything that sparks more joy than a three day weekend???

Something is a little off about this Labor Day Weekend. Not having to physically "go to work" tomorrow (as in, GO TO the office) is not the same in COVID world. Long before the pandemic, remote work and the ability to work from anywhere was already a movement. Zoom became "a verb" long before the pandemic. 

"I'll give you three guesses" is used when someone is trying to guess something, because you will not tell them, often because the answer is so very obvious. "I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count" means the person believes you know the answer but may not realize you know it. 

Are you working tomorrow?  "I'll give you three guesses....." Well, now I really don't know....ARE YOU WORKING TOMORROW or not???

Labor Day of a few years ago, no work really meant NO (none, zip, nada) WORK that day. Banks: closed, the Post Office: closed. Most true BUSINESS OFFICES were closed, please call back tomorrow. 

Now, because of COVID the difference between "I'm not working tomorrow" and "I'm not going to BE at work tomorrow" could not be more evident. I think the future will be: "I'm not going to be online tomorrow" will be the new normal. Being "off the grid" is going to become the new "I'm not at work" phrase. 

Will you check emails tomorrow? Will you do ANYTHING work related tomorrow? Will you do anything to prepare for work on Tuesday? What does "working" even mean anymore? 

And now, back to things of three.

The charter boat The Minnow, got caught in a storm during a three-hour sightseeing tour around Hawaii. And "Professor" Roy Hinkley Jr. with his three degrees could not figure out how to repair the damn boat and get off Gilligan's Island. They were OFF THE GRID. Working, but not AT WORK. 

HOW could a three-hour sightseeing tour around Hawaii get lost at sea? At the time, Thurston Howell, III brought $300,000 in cash with him, on what was supposed to be a sightseeing tour around the Big Island. You know, close to the shoreline. On the show, Thurston was worth $3 billion. A billionaire on three-hour tour on a tiny boat. Don't even get me started about the Movie Star. What a crazy plot that was so full of holes - for 3 SEASONS. 

And so, if you made it this far, you probably are wishing to have the last three minutes of your life back. For me, I'll be working (on something) tomorrow, probably for around three hours. Because I work from home, and I am owner, I work seven days a week. 

Just not in a row. 

I guess there were 3 Shopping Malls 
on the Island

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Coffee Maker Time Machine

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Way back in 2016, when I was doing audio-only podcasts, I interviewed Braydan Young of CoffeeSender. Cool concept. Sending coffee to folks as a thank you for attending a webinar, or accepting a meeting, or just because, well, who does not love COFFEE???

It was a good (not great) podcast, and I was still getting my sea legs on doing interviews. CoffeeSender (was) a fully integrated rewards, incentives, and perks platform for enterprises. Companies used CoffeeSender to send customers, prospects, partners, and employees - coffee. The recipient would get an email with a custom message and a $5 Starbucks eGift Card. That was, ah, pretty much it. 

I found is still working on our website. I really cannot believe that is still working, I forgot all about it.

OK: let's all jump into the Coffee Maker Time Machine.....

This past week, I did a VIDEO podcast interview with Braydan Young. I have had no (zip, nada, nothing) contact with Braydan since 2016. I saw a post online about Sendoso, and said to myself: "Self, that is kinda like CoffeeSender but better." Surprise surprise: hey Braydan Young, watchabeendoingforthelastfiveyears????

Sendoso, the leading Sending Platform, helps companies to stand out by giving them new ways to engage with customers throughout the buyer's journey. By integrating digital and physical sending strategies, companies can increase the effectiveness of their existing go-to-market programs and improve their relationships with customers. 

Trusted by over 500 companies, Sendoso (formerly CoffeeSender) is an essential part of successful demand generation, account-based, and customer experience programs. 

Founded in 2016 by two guys, Kris Rudeegraap and Braydan Young. Co-Founders. College Buddies. 

Today, same two guys - plus 550+ more people, give or take. Sendoso is backed by $54M in venture funding and has a global footprint, with a presence in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. 

So, a couple of things. Did you ever have (zero) contact with someone for YEARS, and then pick up right where you left off? There should be a word for that, maybe like Schadenfreude or Gluckschmerz. My video podcast with Braydan was like we had a tee time set for next Saturday. It felt like it was 5 weeks, not 5 years since our last contact. That is a great feeling. Feels kinda like coffee in the morning. 

Also this: OMG - SENDOSO! 

I was an early user of Zoom, so I watched the past ten years of Zoom growth. I missed the last five years of the Sendoso rocket ship. But just doing a little research, I was blown away by what I found. It just goes to show that a good idea is a good idea, full stop. But the world is full of good ideas, right? Sendoso hit $24M in in revenue with 500 customers in 2020. How did they catch lightning in a bottle - or coffee in a cup?

I highly recommend watching the interview with Braydan Young - it should be live no later than tomorrow. And any day now, will be LIVE on our website, a new value-added member benefit. Back in 2016, it was Starbucks eGift Cards. That was it. That was the deal. Here you go, here is a Starbucks card, thank you.

Today, think video mailers, custom gift boxes, printed success stories, books, beer, wine, even handwritten notes. Got something - anything - you want to send? Sendoso has you covered. 

They say nice guys finish last. 

Looks like college buddies Kris and Braydan are just getting started. 

What is the opposite of Schadenfreude??? is coming soon!!!


Sunday, August 22, 2021

My eyes are up here!

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

It's all about the eyeballs. 
A blog is a discussion or informational website published on the Internet consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style entries. Posts are usually displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first. Like this one.

How do bloggers (video or otherwise) make money? The same way everyone else does: by offering something of value in exchange for money. The five main ways bloggers make money: ads, affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, products, and services. 

Some people blog to help a company rank on search engines. Or to share information about a given topic and become an expert in an industry. Or to attract visitors to a website, and turn those visitors into leads.

I started blogging around ten years ago. Not sure when, but I started an audio podcast around the same time. It seemed (at the time) that everyone was doing it, so I should do it. I did not want to be the guy that got left behind.

At some point, I started doing VIDEO podcasts, because (again) everyone was doing it. Blogging enables you to reach the billions of people that use the Internet. Blogging works as a method for attracting an audience because it provides something of value to them before asking for anything in return. 

Yep. Blogging, Podcasts (Video or Audio) will help you to attract an audience, establish authority, build rapport and engagement, create opportunities, organize your thoughts and learn, tell your story, meet new people, stand out, validate expertise, and eventually.......make money. 

Funny Makes Da Money.

When the USA first went under lockdown due to COVID, one group of professionals was devastated: Comedians. Doing LIVE shows at comedy clubs, college campuses, events of any size (live) went to zero

As a lark, we started doing video podcasts with comedians, Zoom Shows if you will. Some of our professional comedian guests had millions of followers on their OWN social media sites. Really famous people, not working. On Twitter alone: Patton Oswalt 4.7M. Jim Gaffigan 3.2M. Jerry Seinfeld 4.2M. So when we would record a Coffee In the Clouds - with COMEDIANS we would get millions of eyeballs to our video blogs due to their tweets getting retweeted. 

Why stop there, right? We did Coffee In the Clouds - with ACTORS, AUTHORS, MUSICIANS, ENTREPRENEURS. 

When an author has a new book, our video podcasts help them with pre-order book sales. When an entrepreneur is launching a new business, our video podcasts help them to tell their story. Video podcasts, reaching millions of eyeballs.

The one cool thing with VIDEO podcasts, is the data. You can see if someone watches the video, see if someone watches the ENTIRE video, or watches the entire video - and then FORWARDS the video to someone ELSE to watch! Many times, we can place a coupon or something "free" as a thank you for watching. 

Sometimes CEOs that we have interviewed have taken our video podcast interviews, and shared them with their own entire customer base. Folks with 2M+ followers on LinkedIn share their interviews with their followers. Tweets getting retweeted, posts getting reposted.

Networking: Expert Level. 

When I look back on the past 24 months, our exponential growth at all started when Zoom became a verb - and - when professional comedians were truly "Starving Artists" due to COVID. 

As of this blog (08/22/2021) we are still fighting COVID. 30% of the eligible population of the USA has not yet been vaccinated. The DELTA variant is running amok. We pray that we shall not go back under lockdown, we PRAY that we can go back to live schools, live events, and doing things - LIVE

No matter what happens for the rest of 2021, we shall be serving freshly brewed Coffee in the Clouds, powered by Zoom. with Elie Honig - get
his new book for FREE! 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

That works for me!

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

OK, let's get to work!

There are some words that have so many different meanings, so many different definitions that we can get lost. 

Work is one of those words.

We can go to work, get to work, work hard, work fast, work slow. You can work a corner, work your way through college, work your way up the company. You can work alone, work on a team, or work on improving your teamwork. 

You can do police work, camera work, or give someone the works. A book can be the work of many hands, or it can be an early work by a major writer. 

A horse can be put to work, and then they are a workhorse. And clothes can become work clothes, if you only wear them at work. I am old enough to remember changing in to play clothes after coming home from school. After all, my parents worked hard for those school clothes! 

If you are still reading this blog, I may have just worked a miracle. If my plan worked, you are working very hard right now, trying to guess where this all going.

Sportscasters can work a game, politicians can work a crowd, and comedians can work a room.

It is nice when your boss "works it" so that you can take your vacation. Otherwise, you might work yourself into a rage, and then find yourself out of work. 

Ah yes, work can be a verb, a noun, or an adjective. 

The BIG topic in the USA today is this: are we going BACK? Back to work? Or, back to SCHOOL, for our schoolwork? As in, are we going back to a location where WORK was historically done. And the debate now rages on how location impacts the quality of work (or the quality of anything). 

Ah, did schoolwork become homework when we did not do it while physically AT school? Yeah, the schoolhouse just became "a house" during COVID. And schoolwork can be done anywhere, with or without a classroom, or a lecture hall or even in many cases, a laboratory. Hmmm, labor-a-tory. I feel a blog on "labor" is in my future. 

I feel that saying "at work" means busy, engaged in working. Like, when you are AT WORK you are engaged in one's regular occupation. 

When you meet someone for the first time, the conversation usually goes "Hello, I'm Tom. Who are you and what do you do?" We identify by our career, our occupation. We identify by our BODY OF WORK. 

An actor, writer or musician is judged by their body of work - not the location where said body of work was actually created. 

NYC became "The Big Apple" over the years, first, because it had a natural deep water port. Shipping and The Maritime Industry made New York. Wall Street, Broadway, were all are result of the location (proximity to the city) being mandatory. The more people who HAD to live in (or very near) the city grew and grew. You had to physically go to the office - that is where the files were, the corporate phone system was located, the typewriters, the fax machines, the copy machines, and of course, eventually the computers. Meetings were held in conference rooms, where "the work" of managing "the workers" was accomplished. If you missed a meeting, there was no recording of the meeting to catch up. 

The LOCATION of the work, historically defined... the work. 

Today, not so much. Humans crave touch, yes. Go to any airport, and see people hugging hello, and hugging good-bye. Handshakes and hugs are very important to the human condition. Physical touch, we miss it when we can't have it. A pat on the back, a "high five" after a good sales meeting, a fist-bump in the hallway. Yeah, those are the things that trigger the good brain chemistry, right? 

But we should not confuse physical location with the quality of work, or with the final quality or value of any work product. Especially when the "work product" we are producing might be teaching, training, coaching or mentoring. Humans are social creatures, and we crave connection and physical touch. It's in our DNA. Is this not why the Meetings & Events business is actually - a business?

"Work is not a place that you go to, it's what you do" is a phrase that we have all heard many times. Due to COVID, that has never been more true - for work, for school, for just about everything. Sorry, I just had to work that phrase into my blog. 

Sometimes, work sucks. But you know what rarely sucks?


Who does not love pizza? Most of the time, we order pizza for home delivery, as least as often as physically going to, and eating in a pizzeria, right? Pizza is pretty great, regardless of location. And everyone has a favorite topping, yes? Or, do you order your Pizza with the works?

Pizza With The Works (Except Anchovies)

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Breaking Good

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There is a very good chance that if you read the words, or heard someone say "Breaking Bad" it would resonate with you. A very good chance that you would associate Breaking Bad with the TV Series from 2008 - 2013 about a High School chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer who turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family's future.

The creator Vince Gilligan said that he thought the phrase "Breaking Bad" was a Southern regionalism from the area in Virginia from which he hails. It means "to raise hell," he says, as in "I was out the other night at the bar....and I really broke bad." 

If you Google it, "Breaking Bad" can mean to go wild, to defy authority, to break the law, to be verbally combative, belligerent, or threatening. To behave in a violent manner for no good reason. 

Can you Break Bad - and then Break Good? Or, can you Break Good from the middle, without the extreme swings of the pendulum? 

In 2020, Facebook was called "The Worst Brand of the Year" by many media pundits. Full disclosure: I use Facebook daily, and I am very active in selling, marketing and promoting Workplace from Facebook. I love the technology, and we plan on being the #1 reseller of Workplace, nationwide.

There seems to be two Facebooks. The one that has been a health misinformation super spreader during the same pandemic where it sought to present itself as a lifeline for connection. The one that explicitly allowed politicians to lie on its platform leading up to a Presidential election. The same Facebook, which has more users than the Catholic Church, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he didn't want to be an arbiter of truth. 

You can't talk about Facebook's 2020 without looking at how it ended 2019, which was full-on PR crisis mode. CEO Mark Zuckerberg's performance in front of the House financial services committee was a disaster. Mark managed to embody all the worst impressions of a hubristic company, out of touch with its role in the world. Refusing to see the mirror being held up to its face, Mark had to live the now classic "Lying is bad" moment with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

Over the last ten days, I personally experienced the best that Facebook has to offer. 

We lost both of our dogs Mandy and Colin within six months of each other. We have had dogs since the 80s. Norton, Casey, Bella, Mandy, Colin. All rescues, all Labradors - less Colin. We have no idea what Colin was, except adorable. We came across a post on Facebook that there was a dog "Konta" that needed to be rehomed. 

This was last Tuesday.

Via the power of Facebook, I friended the owner. Via messenger, we communicated. I shared pictures of our past dogs, our home, our yard. I was able to use Facebook to solicit "references" from friends and family - as the owner of Konta was being very (VERY) through. And, I admired that he was being so careful and protective of Konta. We chatted on messenger about how we lost first Mandy and then Colin within six months of each other. And that is how our home would be perfect for Konta. 

The new "Konta" Bench at the foot of the bed.

I think of the plot of the TV Series "Breaking Bad" and how such a nice person can become so twisted, so evil, so......bad. I guess that was key to the story, that anyone, under the right set of circumstances, can "Break Bad". 

I see the Peter Parker (Spider-Man) principle at play with Facebook. "With great power comes great responsibility" as Uncle Ben would lecture Peter. The paradox is that it seems to be much (much) easier for a company (or a person) to Break Bad, rather than to Break Good. 

Thanks to the power of Facebook, Konta Capone spent his first night in Boonton Township. Day One of the Konta Capone Chronicles was yesterday. Thanks to Facebook, we have a new rescue dog, and we also have new "hooman" friends - the previous family of Konta. I expect them to come and visit Konta at his new home at least once or twice in the future. They are welcome anytime - we are all one big happy family now! 

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. Breaking Bad. Most of us know these catch phrases, right? And, we know them because of media companies - like Disney (Marvel) or Netflix or Facebook. 

As of 8/8/2021 Mark Zuckerberg's net worth is $130.8B as per Forbes. Facebook, the social media network has become a go-to communications tool during the pandemic. In June, more than 1,000 advertisers joined a boycott to protest Facebook's lax policing of hate speech and misleading posts from politicians. In 2015, Mark and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook stake over their lifetimes. 

Breaking Bad vs. Breaking Good. I have just learned that Mark and Priscilla are spending many billions in an attempt to end, cure or manage ALL disease by the year 2100. Mark was 19 years old when he started Facebook at Harvard in 2004. Life is full of twists and turns. 

Life is full of breaks, good and bad. Breaking Bad is easier - Breaking Good is, well, harder - but worth it. Worth it by several levels of magnitude. 

And without further ado, I present to you.......  Konta Capone.

Thanks, Mark. 

“Chase the good, not the money, 
the money will end up following you.” 
— Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos