Friday, December 31, 2010

Don't Eat Paste in 2011

According to Google, the average life expectancy in the USA is 77.9 years. OK, since we know that everything on the Internet is always true, let’s go with that. Now, let’s do something interesting. Instead of adding up the years, let’s review our lives by decades. To be clear, a decade is a period of ten years. The word is derived (via French) from the Ancient Greek dekas which means ten. That means that if we are lucky, we have seven or eight decades to make our marks on the world. Here we go!

Decade One
Your first decade is spent pooping your pants, playing with toys, watching cartoons, and getting your first introduction to school. During your first decade, your teeth don’t work so well. In fact, just when you get used to them, they fall out. We learn that eating paste in school is highly over-rated. Decade one gets you a two wheeler bike (ouch, scraped knees) your first homework assignment (you forgot to do it) and your first fight with a bully on the playground (ouch, again). But in decade one Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are always in your corner.

Decade Two
This is the best! In decade two, you learn everything that there is to learn in life. You officially become the smartest person in the world, and you realize that your parents are clearly idiots. It is in decade two that you have your first drink, your first cigarette (please don’t) and your first, well – your first just about everything. Decade two introduces you to puberty, middle school, high school, and college. Here we learn how to drive cars, get into (and out of) trouble, how to make our parents crazy, and it is in decade two that we have our first “real” dates. In some cases, in decade two you can even get (surprise) your own kids! Yes, decade two is by far the best – you are invincible!

Decade Three
Decade three gets really interesting. You are now usually married (or divorced) with more bills than money. You have a job (career) that you love (hate). You have a home (mortgage / second mortgage) and a new car that runs like a top (it’s in the shop, again). In decade one, you believed in Santa Claus. Now, in decade three, you are Santa Claus.

Decade Four
Decade four is much like three, but with bigger bills. Decade four is where you start losing hair on your head, but it starts growing like crazy in your ears (right guys?). If you are lucky, you have traveled well, and you have memories of some wonderful family vacations. Once again (according to Google) you have had two to three jobs (maybe more) at this point in your career. The days of working for one company for life are long gone. If you are lucky, it is in decade four that your youngest graduated from college, and you are finally “done” with tuition payments. What did you say, Jr? Graduate school? Hey, that’s great! .

Decade Five
Oh my God, what was that noise? Oh geeze, that was my father’s noise! Decade five is the wonderful decade of “losing things”. It is the decade of going bald (hair plugs) knee replacements, and (fill in the blank) replacements. Why the hell did I get that tattoo on my (fill in the blank) back in decade two??? It is in decade five that men run out and get the (Corvette, Harley Davidson, etc.) to make themselves feel better about the things they (lost / are losing). Ah yes, decade five is the decade of making up for the things that we lost, including our minds. Funny how you lose your hearing, but you ears get bigger to compensate (guys).

Decade Six
Ah, retirement. All of those years of hard work, the 401k and the Social Security payments. Now I get to play golf, travel the world, and enjoy myself. What did you say? Bank failures? Bernie Madoff? My house is now only worth how much???

Decade Seven
At some point during decade seven (or eight, or nine...) you will probably find yourself pooping your pants, playing with toys, and watching cartoons. Your teeth don’t work so well. In fact, just when you get used to them, they fall out (dentures). Ah yes, the circle of life. Why do the first and last decades have to be so similar? It is here that we realize that God truly has a sick sense of humor.

As the world welcomes 2011, it might be helpful to think of our lives as a series of decades. If we are lucky, we will have seven, maybe eight (or God willing nine) decades to live our lives. It is our quest to link these decades together, to make them as fulfilling and successful as possible. We don’t have too much control over the first decade, and probably not too much control over the last. It is what we do with the “middle decades” that we will consider our legacy.

I am in the beginning of my fifth decade. I am blessed to have wonderful wife, two great sons and a career that I enjoy. It is the magic of the Internet that allows me to share my thoughts with the world. It is my plan to make this decade my best decade ever. That is my plan - why not make it yours as well?

My final thoughts for 2010: live and follow the “golden rule” whenever possible. And don’t eat paste, regardless of which decade you are in.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's the story, of a lovely lady...

There's nothing quite like a good story. When sitting at a college lecture, listening to an athlete’s celebratory speech, or talking to a good friend, our ears perk up and our minds click whenever the word "story" makes an appearance.

A good story has the power to take a concept, a philosophy, and an idea and make it into a breathing, colorful entity, giving it life and making it real. It takes hazy notions and turns them into tangible, concrete objects that we can feel, touch, and that we can understand. A good story creates a bond, a connection. A good salesman knows how to tell a good story.

In marketing, telling a story is potent and powerful. When you tell people the story behind your product and company, they start listening. With the help of a story, you turn a cold, impersonal object into a warm and real personal connection. Imagine you supply a service, such as a computer technician. Your story begins when you were just a child and would spend hours taking things apart just to figure out how they worked, fascinated by the intricate technology.

Now, you've been working in the computer repair industry for over 20 years, and you love the challenge of determining the exact cause of the problem and providing a long-lasting, effective solution.

You're no longer just a computer technician. You are now someone who possesses an innate curiosity, a love for his work, and pride in his achievements. And you provide truly unique, individualized service. You've just created an intimate connection with your clients by giving them a real image of who you are, via a story.

What's the story behind what you do for a living? What drives you, what motivates you? What is the story behind your business, or the story behind your invention? How did it all begin? Tell your clients about your history and your mission, and notice how people begin to connect to you and become enamored with your unique expertise and focus. Tell them your story, and make your company and product come alive.

Now, let me tell you a story about a man named Jed...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bunny

Tomorrow, there is a very good chance that you will be celebrating the birthday of someone that everyone in the world has come to know and love. Now, before you think I am being “politically incorrect”, read on…

The Energizer Bunny, the symbol of battery maker Energizer Holdings Inc., debuted in a Christmas themed commercial in 1989 and has, well, kept going ever since.

For more than 20 years, the advertising icon has become famous enough that people who persevere beyond reasonable expectation are often referred to, or call themselves, the "Energizer Bunny." Among the many references from politicians:

• In 1996, Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, then 72, dismissed concerns about his age, saying: "I'm like the Energizer Bunny. We've got a lot of juice left in our generation."

• With his 2004 presidential campaign floundering, Democratic candidate Howard Dean promised reporters to keep "going and going and going and going and going — just like the Energizer Bunny."

• In 2005, former President George H.W. Bush said of former President Bill Clinton as they traveled together to raise funds for victims of the Asian tsunami, "You should have seen him going, town to town, country to country, Energizer Bunny here."

The pink bunny, always pounding a drum, always wearing sunglasses and flip-flops, made his debut in Christmas 1989 powering toys for all the good little girls and boys in the world.

The bunny soon showed up in a series of parody commercials for products such as wine, coffee and long-distance phone service, always banging the drum into the commercial to interrupt. Two decades later, he is still going strong.

The Energizer Bunny became an advertising icon. They found a meaningful and differentiating position within the category that is important to the consumer, and what's important for a battery is that it's long-lasting, it just keeps going.

To mark the start of his 20th year, a 40-foot-tall bunny float took part in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York and kept going down 34th Street while other participants made a right onto 7th Avenue.

The message of the Energizer Bunny has remained consistent over the last two decades. He speaks to longevity, determination and perseverance. He personifies the American spirit.

OK, Tom, where are you going with this?

Well, first of all, if you bought anything for anyone (especially toys for the kiddies) that says “requires 2 AAA batteries” on the box, today is your last chance to save Christmas morning. Get your batteries today, or you will be heading out to Walgreens tomorrow morning in your PJs. I am speaking from experience, so trust me on this one.

Second, just like the Energizer Bunny, the Christmas Season comes every year. Dependable, reliable, unstoppable. Regardless of your religious beliefs, no matter where you live in the world, Christmas is a time for everyone to reflect on the true meaning of the holiday - the unstoppable, reliable, dependable spirit of Christmas.

The “Christmas Season” which starts before Thanksgiving and ends after New Year’s Day is my favorite time of year. Not for the presents, not for the parties, and not for the great food. But for the pure enjoyment of spending quality time with friends, family and embracing everyone who is truly important in our lives. Of all the birthday parties that I have ever attended, the one that we celebrate every December 25th is by far, my very favorite.

Happy Holidays / Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stop. Look. Listen.

I have always loved gadgets and gizmos. I grew up in the age of Star Trek, Apollo 11, and Color TV. I remember that it was a big deal to make the leap from Black and White TV to Color. Disneyworld in Orlando had its grand opening when I was around ten years old. A trip to Orlando in the 60’s and early 70’s was all about how our world would be shaped and made better through science and technology.

I remember that our family had one of the first “automatic garage door openers” in the neighborhood. Push a button from the car and the garage door goes up and down, like magic. I remember charging the kids in my neighborhood a quarter to push the button. I guess it was my destiny to find a career in the technology space, as I was always looking to be the one who gets to “push the button” on the next gizmo or widget. Anything wireless or “remote controlled” was super cool when I was a kid, that was for sure.

My two sons came home from college last night. Both are in the School of Business at Universities in Connecticut. They have access to all of the latest “gadgets and gizmos” for education. Laptop computers, high speed Internet, iPads and cell phones. Their state-of-the-art college libraries have real-time access to just about everything ever written, spoken, recorded, videotaped or photographed. They can videochat with professors, fellow students, or when they feel like it, with their parents back home. Both boys had the last of their last final exams yesterday. While driving home, they were able to log in from the car and see their final grades for the semester, within hours of handing in their last exam.

We are living during a time of a global network of friends on Facebook, cars with talking GPS, and kitchen appliances connected to the Internet. We are living in the time of instant communication, no matter where you are in the world, including the International Space Station. Walt Disney would be proud to see his vision and dream of “Tomorrowland” come true. Or would he?

Our two sons arrived home at around 11pm last night. We all sat in the kitchen for at least an hour, maybe two. Just my wife, my two sons and our dog Bella. No cell phones, no videochats, no emails. The hot chocolate was made from scratch (no microwave was used). I made it a point to listen, not speak. I make it a point to watch the expressions on the boy’s faces as they described their last few weeks at college. The relief of being finished with exams, and how good it was for them to be home, sleeping in their own beds. They told stories of their experiences, their professors, their friends, their roommates, dorm life, everything. I did not want to interrupt, I wanted to just sit back and soak it all in. No technology was involved in the making of this moment. It was pure human interaction.

There are various quotes about how “money simply amplifies who you are”. The idea is that having access to money makes good people better, and that access to money makes bad people worse, or something like that. I think the same thing applies to having access to technology. Last night was a very “low tech” evening - and yet - the quality of the communication was outstanding. The boys were tired from the driving, and they went to bed around midnight. But I could have sat at the kitchen table all night long, watching their expressions, and listening to their stories of college life, and how technology is playing a role in their world.

I love technology, and I love my job selling and promoting technology. I think that the world is a better place because of the magic of automatic garage door openers, cell phones, and the Internet. The next time you are in the car and you come up to a railroad crossing, you will see a sign that says “Stop. Look. Listen”. That is about as low tech as you can get, regarding something very important indeed (your safety). Try an experiment with your customers, with your friends, and by all means, try this with your family during this holiday season. Stop, look and listen to what people are saying to you. Stop, look and by all means - truly listen to what they are trying to communicate. Let it all soak in, like people used to do in the days before Facebook and texting. Let the magic of today’s communication technology simply “amplify and magnify” what messages you are already sending and receiving. Stop, Look and Listen.

Happy Holidays.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"Thanks a Million"

Did you ever say to anyone who did you a favor “Thanks a million...”? I know that I have, many times. I have not “Googled it” lately, but I think the average life expectancy in the USA is 72, which is much higher than the world average. If we use this number and then multiply by 365 days in a year, this produces a mere 26,280 days. If we factor out the “Diaper Years”, the exuberant years of adolescence, and also factor out our final years of twilight, this leaves us we far less than 26,280 days where we are fully responsible for our own thoughts and actions.

Yesterday, our family took the bus from Northern New Jersey to NYC to see the Macy’s Balloons. Taking the bus, we avoided the gas, tolls and parking expenses of “the Big Apple” which can be insane during the holidays. My youngest son Robert said that this was the first time that he ever rode a public bus. How was this possible? How could he have lived for 19 years in the New York Tri-State area, and have never ridden on a bus? Time flew by, as our family discussed this paradox.

When we arrived in NYC, we took a taxi cab to Columbus and 79th to see the Macy’s balloons. I think the night before the parade is more fun than the parade itself. Because there were four of us, I sat in front with the driver, my family sat in the back. All of us (including the driver) started talking about the city and the holidays. We learned that our driver was driving taxi cabs for five years. At a red light, next to our cab was one of those bicycle taxi cabs (Rickshaw) where the cab driver “peddles” you around NYC via nothing but human-power. These tricycle Rickshaws charge $15 to start, and $1 per minute for the trip. Add an extra $10 for more than one passenger. We saw hundreds of these three-wheeled taxis, and they were all occupied. New York City really is quite amazing.

When we arrived at Columbus and 79th, we got out of the cab and we all said thank you to the driver, and wished him a Happy Thanksgiving. I wondered if he was being extra nice during our ride (to earn an extra good holiday tip) or if he was this friendly every day, with every passenger. We asked a local police officer where the balloons were being set up, he gave us excellent directions, and he gave us a few secret tips on how to best see the balloons. We said thank you and we wished him a Happy Thanksgiving. At the end of the evening, we took another taxi cab (no Rickshaws for us) back to the Port Authority, and another bus ride back home.

It is estimated that over one million people see the balloons the night before the parade, and over three million people watch the parade live on the streets of NYC. There are no fees to see the balloons inflated the night before, and there is no charge to watch the parade in the morning. I cannot even imagine the true financial costs and expense to set up the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, to organize it, or clean up after it - for the past 83 years. As I write this blog, I am in my living room watching in HDTV the same balloons that I saw live and in person, just a few hours ago.

Other than our costs of transportation, our family “fun day” excursion into NYC yesterday was completely free. And yet, by my best calculation, we only said “thank you” to two bus drivers, two cab drivers, and one police officer. It would appear that we missed a few people, who made our holiday outing possible.

Today will be a day in our household that we spend eating (too much) wonderful food, watching no less than three professional football games on a big screen HDTV, and enjoying our numerous blessings. I had an epiphany on the bus ride home. It was this: if I spend the rest of my life, saying a proper and sincere “thank you” for all of my blessings – if I were to truly give thanks to everyone who is responsible for everything that is good and important in my life, I would need to live a very, very long life indeed – and I would be saying “thank you” non-stop. I think of all the time wasted in diapers and my years as an (occasionally) thankless teenager – I need to make up for lost time.

On this Thanksgiving Day 2010, I am thankful for my wonderful family, and my dear friends and co-workers. But I am also thankful for New York City cab drivers, bus drivers, and police officers. I am thankful for the armed forces of the US that are allowing all of us to watch the Macy’s Day Parade (for free) and to enjoy all of the freedoms that we enjoy, and to live the rewarding lives that we wish to create for our families. We are all so blessed, and the blessings are so diverse and numerous, that we can easily forget how much we have already enjoyed, and what the future still holds for all of us.

Black Friday will be tomorrow, and the malls will be full of people spending money, buying gifts for friends and family, while getting ready to enjoy the holiday season. The next thirty days are the most amazing of the entire year – especially in such places as New York City. I hope that we take the time to be thankful for the abililty to enjoy the holiday season - and what it means - as many in the world will not be as fortunate.

Since it is mathematically impossible to thank everyone who is responsible for all that we enjoy and cherish, and since it is impossible to go back in time and properly thank all who have made the sacrifices that created the lives that we enjoy, there is only one thing that I can say, and that is “Thanks a million”.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

You did that on purpose!

I bought a car phone in 1983, when they were very (very) expensive. At the time, I was a college student, with aspirations of going to medical school. I had no real job, but I had a fancy sports car (very spoiled – the only son of a very Italian family). And I just had to have a car phone. Did I mention that I was spoiled? I never did go to medical school, but I have since sold many a “car phone” in my career – and many of those sales were to Doctors.

Inside each and every one of us is a passion, a particular trait or talent which bears our name. There are those who have had the good fortune of turning their aptitude and strengths into a livelihood, transforming their hobby into a business. Is this on purpose, or by accident?

In recent years, due to abysmal economic circumstances, many people have found themselves without traditional jobs to support their families. So they began to dabble in less traditional occupations, discovering unexplored, unfulfilled niches and opportunities. The is full of such opportunities. Unfortunately, 80% or more of all new business ventures fail within the first 24 months. Alas, there are no short cuts to success, no matter how good the opportunity might appear.

Over the past few years, many new businesses were indeed created. And in some cases, many of these new businesses grew and flourished. But as demands came pouring in, many accidental entrepreneurs found themselves overwhelmed, unprepared, having never realized that their passion could take hold. Orders had to be turned down, the pace of production inevitably slowed, and the level of success stalled.

An accidental entrepreneur is a wonderful thing- as these daring individuals stumble across pockets of innovation and potential. But how does one maintain momentum and ensure that the growth of a new business isn't slowed or even killed before maturity?

An accidental entrepreneur begins their business without a plan, never dreaming that their hobby or passion could make it in the marketplace. But now that it has, without a plan, without vision, valuable goods and services become buried in tidal waves of growth. When this occurs, it is important to step back, slow down, and re-focus. What is the true nature of the business? What might have started out as an emergency “paycheck replacement” strategy is now a living, adolescent “entity” that needs good parenting. It is never too late to develop a strategy, to learn proper business procedures and processes, and evaluate points of profit and loss in order to allow a business to truly grow and prosper in healthy, sustainable way.

Accidental entrepreneurs should never lose heart or give up. Many successful businesses began accidentally. Hobbies can be transformed into corporations, but at some point in time, the creators stopped, stepped back, and formulated a proper business plan. True vision, purposeful strategies, and concrete guidelines steered them to their level of success.

So, I never did get my MD license plates, and I never did get to park next to fire hydrants legally. But I did get to say “I’ll call you from the car” long before anyone else thought it was possible. And that was no accident.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Freedom Isn't Free

Today, November 11th, we observe Veterans Day. There are nearly 24 million Veterans living among us, in every state and territory and from every walk of life. Many of the folks here at MTP are veterans or have loved ones who are veterans.

We'd like to take this time to honor those who chose to serve our country, work to keep us as well as our loved ones safe day and night. Please thank a veteran and share these facts with your friends & family, courtesy of the Veterans Administration:

(1917 - 1918)
Total Servicemembers (Worldwide): 4,734,991
Battle Deaths: 53,402
Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater): 63,114
Non-mortal Woundings: 204,002
Living Veterans: 1

(1941 - 1945)
Total Servicemembers (Worldwide): 16,112,566
Battle Deaths: 291,557
Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater): 113,842
Non-mortal Woundings: 670,846
Living Veterans: 2,079,000

(1950 - 1953)
Total Servicemembers (Worldwide): 5,720,000
Battle Deaths: 33,739
Other Deaths (in Theater): 2,835
Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater): 17,672
Non-mortal Woundings: 103,284
Living Veterans: 2,507,000

(1964 - 1975)
Total Servicemembers (Worldwide): 8,744,000
Battle Deaths: 47,434
Other Deaths (in Theater): 10,786
Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater): 32,000
Non-mortal Woundings: 153,303
Living Veterans: 7,569,000

(1990 - 1991)
Total Servicemembers (Worldwide): 2,322,000
Battle Deaths: 148
Other Deaths (in Theater): 235
Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater): 1,565
Non-mortal Woundings: 467
Living Veterans: 2,254,000

(2001 - PRESENT)
The War on Terror, including Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom are ongoing conflicts. For the most recent statistics, please visit the following Department of Defense Web site:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Daddy, what's a library?

The USA became a “Super Power” for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons came from Mother Nature. Our ability to mine coal, drill for oil, produce steel and manufacture “hard goods” was something that other countries simply could not duplicate. Much of our success and blessings as a nation came from our winning the Mother Nature lottery.

General Motors was founded in 1908 in Flint, Michigan and grew to be the largest corporation in the world. Its market capitalization reached $50 billion in 2000. The story of General Motors is the story of America. “As goes GM, so goes the Nation” is the old adage. Plentiful access to coal, iron ore, and other natural resources allowed GM to be born – here - in the USA. Anyone ever hear of a football team called the “Pittsburgh Steelers”? How about the Houston Oilers? The “Beverly Hillbillies” would have never moved out west had it not been for Jed stumbling upon “Texas Tea” (Californy is the place you ought to be… as the theme song goes). But I digress.

A Carnegie library is a library built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Very few towns that requested a grant (and agreed to his terms) were refused. When the last grant was made in 1919, there were 3,500 libraries in the United States, nearly half of them built with construction grants paid by Carnegie.

The collections of the Library of Congress in Washington DC include more than 32 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 61 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence, a Gutenberg Bible (one of only four perfect vellum copies known to exist); over 1 million US government publications; 1 million issues of world newspapers spanning the past three centuries; 33,000 bound newspaper volumes; 500,000 microfilm reels; over 6,000 comic book titles; films; 4.8 million maps; sheet music; 2.7 million sound recordings; more than 13.7 million prints and photographic images including fine and popular art pieces and architectural drawings. Ah yes, a library indeed worthy of a Global Super Power.

So, a “library” became the coal, the iron ore and other natural resource of the modern age. Just as you needed to physically “mine” these resources from the ground, back then you could only “mine” knowledge and education from books. Or, you needed to physically enter the buildings located on college campuses, universities and visit the libraries located in fortunate towns and cities. Major Colleges and Universities were judged by the size and depth of their libraries. Today, schools are judged by how “wired” they are – and high speed wireless broadband access is a must. “Professor, do we have an App for that?” Can I get that $75 biology or chemistry textbook on my Kindle or my iPad (for $3.95) via a 45 second wireless download? Can I listen to my Professor’s morning lecture on my iPod later, since I want to (gasp) sleep late today? *Parents, don’t kid yourself – it happens.

The “natural resources” of today can be found on the Internet. The affordable laptop or tablet PC, access to High Definition audio, web and videoconferencing have all replaced the librarian and the cards stacks. Move over Dewey Decimal System - can you say Google? Today, you don’t need to physically be located in the USA to enjoy the resources of the Library of Congress, or to access the resources of any library or museum. The world has truly become flat, and the playing field is more level today that at any other time in history.

I wonder what the USA would be like today if our precious coal mines and steel mills of the past 150 years were located in India, or in the Philippines or elsewhere? I wonder which countries will emerge as the new “Super Powers” over the next ten years? I don’t think that future global success will have much to do with the natural resources that Mother Nature blessed us with beneath the ground. The shift in power will be due to the wonderfully talented, hard working people living all over the globe. Those who truly care to learn – those individuals who truly have the will to grow and succeed will mine their “natural resources” from a totally new type of library. How will you engage and succeed in this new borderless world?

In closing, I am writing this blog on a Sunday morning from my local library. It is called Starbucks®. If Andrew Carnegie only thought of selling coffee for $4 a cup, the USA would now have as many libraries as coffee shops.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Make mine to go

If you don't have a mobile strategy, you don't have a growth plan.

If that sounds extreme, consider some of the latest data that is reinventing consumer orientation for every business in every industry. For starters, the 3,339 texts per month (or six per hour) traded by U.S. teens (4,050 texts per month for girls) suggest that mobility is a way of life.

Young adults 18 to 24 text about half as much, or an average three texts per hour. Texting is the primary reason that young consumers say they have mobile devices; it is easier and faster than making phones calls. This is a clear sign of permanent behavior change hinged on an unprecedented level of interactivity.

But data and apps are the real rising stars of the more than 85% of mobile handsets expected to be Web-connect by next year. The number of people accessing the Internet from mobile devices will outpace the PC within five years. For consumers, it's all about the power of convenient connections and information.

94% of teens consider themselves advanced data users, using their cell phones for messaging, Internet access, multimedia, gaming, downloads and other activities. Downloading and using apps -- a shortcut to where they want to be and what they want to do -- is a rapidly rising second. Mainstream usage of mobile connectivity has surpassed activity on pre-installed games, ringtone downloads and instant messaging.

Even with some 233 mobile phone users in the U.S. on par with the estimated 115 million domestic households that have at least one TV, mobile advertising is just $3 billion of the total $25 billion in total ad spending. While companies grapple with mobile ad solutions grounded in conventional ad practices, the real marketing magic will likely emerge as more interactive consumer pursuits.

For instance, the growing acceptance by users of touchscreen mobile devices such as iPads to make micropayments on the go suggests the development of sustained target marketing relationships punctuated by transactions -- advertising's endgame. Virtually half of consumers say they are routinely making purchases for movie tickets, takeout food, travel and apps using their mobile phones.

Up to 50% of the world's mobile subscribers could be making payments by 2014.
Global mobile commerce is predicted to reach $119 billion by 2015, with Japan and other Asian nations leading the way. In the U.S. alone, consumers already have ordered more than $1 billion in products from Amazon in the past 12 months using mobile devices.

What better place to be than in consumers' hands and heads? With 85% of all American owning a cell phone, about one-third of which are expected to be smartphones in 2011, the mandate is clear. Until that new mobile mindset becomes a strategic and operating priority, companies' growth prospects will lag.

There are signs that Google's entry into the mobile device arena with its Android operating system, now the most popular among recent smartphone users may lure more advertisers to the other side. Google said it expects to realize $1 billion in mobile revenues this year, or about 3% of its total revenues.

New ways of connecting with consumers -- apps, local geotargeted marketing and social networking -- embrace the interaction and transactions that mobile consumers clearly crave.

As mobile Web browsing continues to increase, the pathway to the consumer will be dictated by how they use their personal devices to manipulate their cars, appliances and homes while monitoring their finances, health, work and recreation.

Failure to grasp the interactive possibilities of mobile could be fatal.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Parents Weekend Circa 2010

This weekend was Parents weekend at Quinnipiac University. We have two sons in college in Connecticut, one at UCONN and one at QU. Our entire family met at Quinnipiac today, with our dog Bella in tow. We used GPS to drive to the college. My wife sent text messages to her two boys (non-stop) during the two hour drive from New Jersey. We used EZ-Pass to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge. On campus, we took digital photos from iPhones and numerous digital cameras. We used cell phones to stay in touch when we all were occasionally separated. There were 2D Barcodes all over Quinnipiac, for instant coupons to be sent to mobile phones for Parents Weekend specials. You could text “Boomer” (the QU Mascot) to the short code for QU to win a free dinner at a local restaurant.

Quinnipiac played Holy Cross in Ice Hockey at 4pm. The game was streamed live on the Internet. At least half the people at the hockey game had video cameras, and the others were watching the game on the Jumbo Screen at the new sports arena. Some people in the stands were actually looking down at the ice, watching the game live. What a concept, watching a sporting event live, without using any form of electronic device.

Before my wife and I said our goodbyes, I had some time alone with my youngest son, Robert, our UCONN sophomore. There were no cell phones involved, no text messages, and no cutting-edge technology. It was just the two of us, and our dog Bella. Robert spoke to me directly, looking me in the eye, standing just a few feet away. I will remember that five minute one-on-one conversation for the rest of my life. There was no need for digital technology. As they say on the TV commercials, “priceless”.

Technology is all around us. Technology can make our lives better. It can save us time, it can make us money. In some cases, it can even save our lives. But technology can never replace the most important things in life. The take home message: do not miss the “no technology required” moments in your life. And, these moments happen more often than you think, so pay attention. Put away the cell phone. Just use your eyes, you ears. And, if you are lucky enough to have the opportunity, put your hand on your son or daughter’s shoulder, and use your sense of touch as well. The best “Kodak moments” in life do not need a camera.

By the way, if you are interested, you can watch the replay of today’s Ice Hockey game on Hulu and on YouTube, as Quinnipiac beat Holy Cross 3 to 1. Technology really is amazing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Get Lost!

Over five centuries ago, Christopher Columbus set sail across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a new trade route to India. The findings of this explorer from Genoa, Italy, would change the map of the world and forever alter the course of human history. Columbus accomplished this great feat by getting lost.

When Columbus's crew came ashore in the Americas, they arrived in a world previously unknown to his contemporaries in Europe. Columbus returned to the Caribbean three more times after his maiden voyage in 1492, convinced of the vast potential of what he had seen. His expeditions foreshadowed the journey across the seas for millions of courageous immigrants who followed.
Interestingly, most people do not realize that America was discovered by a salesman. Christopher Columbus was looking for India when he missed it by about 10,000 miles. Fortunately, he was a better salesman than he was a sailor!

If you question his sales ability, just review the facts: He was an Italian in Spain with only one prospect to call on. If he blew the sale, he would have a long swim home. That is what I call pressure selling. Once aboard his borrowed ship, he really had to "sell" his crew in order to get them to sail for him. After a week or two at sea, the crew was going to throw him overboard, convinced that they were all doomed and that Columbus was crazy. He kept saying, "It's just over the horizon, let's sail one more day!" Then came that fateful day and exciting call from the lookout, "Land ho!" and the most profitable sales call in history came to a close. Talk about a long sales cycle!

Actually, everything is selling and everybody sells. At MTP, I say "Our sales department is not the whole company, but the whole company is the sales department." So, no matter what your title or job description might be, no matter what career path you choose, we are all in sales whether we realize it or not – we are all just like Christopher Columbus.

So, the next time you are feeling lost, just remember that you never know what is just beyond the horizon, or just around the corner. Just keep on sailing (selling) and you too might have a Federal Holiday named after you one day.

Oh, and you might want to pick up a GPS to keep the crew (boss, employees, co-workers, wife, etc.) happy.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Swing Batter, Swing!

In baseball and in business, timing is everything. You miss a phone call, you could lose the deal. You hesitate on a contract and a competitor can beat you to the punch. Timing even affects professional ball players - swing too early or too late and you strike out. Performing any action at the proper point in time has a major impact on their level of success.

It's all about the timing.

Research has shown that the best time to send e-mails, make phone calls, and get in touch with your clients and customers is midweek and mid- afternoon, when your customers' responsibilities are fewer and they welcome diversions from their work.

Whenever deciding to launch a product, market a service or even send an e-mail, always put yourself in your customer's shoes to be sure you time it right.

Seasonal Marketing: Everything in life has a season. Fans and cooling systems are needed in the summer; toys and personal gadgets should be featured around the holidays. If you focus on your customer's needs, then your marketing timeline will naturally follow.

Punctuality: Arriving on time for meetings and interviews makes a favorable impression. If you're late, you'll need to work harder to gain favor and recover lost ground that you've relinquished to competing individuals or businesses.

Tomorrow’s Technology Today: Technology changes rapidly. Keep your business, computers and phone systems in the 'now'- updated and modernized- in order to maintain your competitive edge.

Apparel Time: Be sure to dress right for each occasion. Tuxes are for weddings, shorts for the beach. Each item has a place and time. You need to dress to impress at some points in time; at others, you may need to tone down your garb in order to put your customers and clients at ease.

How do you determine proper timing in marketing? There are many factors that affect this decision, but a lot has to do with your client relationship. If you have a solid connection with your customers and have your finger on the pulse of your target market, you'll know what they want and need - now. Last month, something may have been vital - this month, it's already old news. Don't miss your chance. Keep in touch with your clients, find out about their requirements and figure out a way to service them with your products and services.

Just like in baseball, too early or too late, you will strike out - no matter how great and how strong a swing you have. Timing is everything: your creative ideas and inspiration are vital to success, but employed at the wrong time, those great ideas are just a useless waste of energy.

Go Yankees!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New Jersey Five-0

Hawaii Five-O is an American television series produced by CBS Productions, and set in Hawaii. The show originally aired for twelve seasons from 1968 to 1980, and continued in reruns. The show featured a fictional state police unit run by Detective Steve McGarrett, played by actor Jack Lord. The theme music composed by Morton Stevens became a number one hit on the radio. Many episodes would end with McGarrett instructing his subordinate, Danny Williams (played by James MacArthur), to arrest the alleged offender(s) with the phrase: "Book 'em, Danno!"

Born Oct, 2nd, 1960 I turned the “Big Five-0 today”. I keep hearing that show’s theme music in my head. Instead of seeing the opening scene of that massive Hawaii ocean wave that started every show, I am seeing a collage of scenes from my life. In my mind’s eye I can see the best days of my life: my wedding day, the birth of my two sons, both of their high school graduations, etc. I have so many blessings; too many to count. And, thankfully, I have resisted the temptation to do something stupid like buying an expensive sports car (or motorcycle) or sky diving or trying the myriad of things that “turning 50” might bring about. And since I do want to see 51 without my wife ending my quest early, I have behaved myself.

But now, that collage of vivid memories in my mind has switched to scenes of technology. I am reliving watching man land on the moon, and how I watched it on television with my parents. I am remembering how much I loved the “James Bond” movies growing up, and I can’t help but think that my love of 007 made me buy my first car phone in 1983 (I had no job – but I just had to have a car phone). I remember my days at Purdue, when the first “micro computers” were introduced, and how my Professor predicted that everyone will have a personal computer. We all thought he was crazy. I remember my first digital wrist watch ($300) my first Texas Instrument calculator ($200) and all of the toys and gadgets that have shaped my life – and ultimately - shaped my career. I witnessed the birth of Microsoft, Apple Computer, and the Internet. I lived through the break-up of AT&T, the birth of the “Baby Bells” and the creation of the Smartphone. Wearing a beeper used to tell the world that you were either a Doctor or a Plumber. Now, I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone with a beeper. And the iPhone, ah yes, the iPhone. From the company that was all but out of business, Steve Jobs and Apple have now changed the world (again) with the iPad. It feels like just yesterday that calling “long distance” was a big deal, and calling to places like Italy, France or the UK was like a buck a minute. Can you say Skype?

The Facebook movie came out this week. I just had dozens of people from all of over the world wishing me a Happy Birthday. One sent me the Beatle’s “Happy Birthday” tune as a .wav file. It all started with an idea - Facebook - a revolution in communication. Now in just a few years, Facebook is worth $25 billion. Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire. Amazing times, don’t you think?

This week, a Rutgers student killed himself because an embarrassing video of him was posted on the Internet. With so much information available at the click of a button, it is hard to imagine that such a vast resource could be used for such terrible deeds. Social media has a huge effect on the lives of young people, who often share pieces of their life with their social networking friends that they normally would not bring up during conversations. The death of the Rutgers student is, of course, one of the more extreme cases, but it is not the first case of suicide following online social media bullying. Please join me in saying a prayer for him and for his family.

I love my life, my family and my job. I have been truly blessed to work in an industry that is exciting, entertaining, and that continues to change the world. It is not a perfect world, and it will never be perfect. In my humble opinion (as a certified technology nerd) technology is here to stay - so we better all figure out how to use it for good and not evil.

Will Facebook go the way of “the beeper” or will it still be here in 2020? As my last 50 years can attest, the proper answer to all questions regarding technology will always be “perhaps”. There is a quote that says “money makes bad people worse, and it makes good people better”. I say the same goes for technology. Money and technology are tools. It will always be up to all of us how we use our tools, for good or for evil.

OK, so thank you to everyone who wished me a “Happy Birthday” via Facebook. Even those of you who I have never met, those people that I never spoke with in my life, I thank you for your good thoughts for my big 5-0. In closing, I did get a wonderful email today from a Facebook friend that has informed me that he needs my help. It turns out that he is a Prince (from some country that I never heard of) that needs to move several million dollars to the USA. And, if I help him to wire the money, he will give me 10%. Wow, and on my birthday too! To this birthday blessing, I can only say one thing:

"Book 'em, Danno!"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Yankees 4, Red Sox 3. MTP: 52,325.

OK, yesterday was a really good Sunday. Unless you are from Boston. The Yankees came back to win in extra innings to beat the Red Sox. My son and his two college roommates from Quinnipiac took the train from Connecticut to meet us at the game, so my wife got to see her baby boy. I got to spend $400 on Yankee tickets, $23 on parking, $90 for train tickets, and around $225 on food. College kids can pack it away let me tell you. A bottle of water at the “new” Yankee stadium is $5. Beer is $10. Buy a Yankee shirt or anything else, and you need to take a second mortgage to see a Yankee game in person. And all of the 52,325 seats in the largest baseball stadium in the biggest city in the country had “asses” in all of them – sold out for one of the best rivalries in sports. Recession? Not in the Bronx.

Now, while I am sitting there enjoying the game, I am thinking of how much stuff I will have to sell this week to pay for this night out with the family. Then, on the big screen TV – which is MASSIVE – it says “text the word YANKSTEIN to 41513” and you might win an autographed baseball signed by all of the Yankees. Like watching the opening of the China Olympics, 52,325 people reached for their cell phones in what looked like a choreographed dance, and everyone with a phone entered the contest. I did it twice to see if it would let me cheat. It did not.

One of my son’s roommates brought a “Hot Dog” costume to the game. Seriously, at the 7th inning stretch, he transformed into a six foot tall hot dog. He was determined to get himself on TV. To guarantee this would happen, my son sent a text to the Yankee Stadium short code 669900 “There is a guy in a hot dog costume in Section 411. Get him on TV!” Minutes later, everyone in our section is on the big screen. Including me. Someone could have told me that I had mustard on my chin.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Steiner Sports now has a database of 52,325 people who paid several hundred dollars for an evening at Yankee Stadium. What is the demographic profile of these people? Yankee fans, of course, as we don’t allow Red Sox fans into the Bronx. But what else? These are people that are willing to spend a few hundred dollars in a single night, easy. Some fans never miss a home game. Gee, I wonder what else these wonderful Yankee fans spend money on? Who else could this database of 52,325 be of value? An auto dealership? Travel agent? Mortgage company? By opting into the mobile database, the “salt of the earth” Yankee fans are telling us more than they realize about themselves, and about their spending habits. And, this was only one game, of a very long season.

Now, I am in the wireless business, so I saw all of this from the eyes of a telecom and IT nerd. But, I can guarantee you that everyone who opted-in to the Yankee mobile database is now very much aware of the power of Mobile Marketing. They will be getting mobile coupons from Sports Authority, or from Bank of America, or some other official Yankee sponsor. They will be invited to dinner at Yankee Stadium, even during the off season. *Great steaks, by the way. Now, you can opt-out of a mobile database at anytime, just like with email. But the folks who are running the mobile marketing campaigns for the Yankee organization know what they are doing. They will never abuse the system, and they will give the people coupons, deals and special value offers that keep ‘em coming back for more. People will tell their friends to opt-in, to get these great deals.

Now, in how many other stadiums across the US, did this same scene play out yesterday? What about at the Jets game in Miami? Or at the Giants game? If you are not using the power of mobile marketing to grow your business, you are missing the boat. There is no area of marketing that has a greater ROI than with mobile marketing. Want to learn more? Text the word Tom to 30101 and get my mobile business card. Heck, MTP will even give you your first 30 days for free (Yankee fans only). Or, take a free test drive here:

Only losers will miss the mobile marketing revolution, and I can prove it. Currently, there is no mobile marketing at Fenway Park. Now, that is the real “Curse of the Bambino”.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What did you learn in school today?

Today was BizTechDay New York. The BizTechDay™ conference brings innovative and scalable ideas to small business entrepreneurs. If you are in the technology business, BizTechDay is like being a kid at Disneyworld, on Christmas, if your birthday was on December 25th. There were many great presenters on the schedule, but there were two guys that I just simply had to meet.

Simon Sinek, Author of the book “Start With Why” and Seth Godin, New York Times Best Selling Author. A few weekends ago, I watched videos of both Seth and Simon on I thought they were great. From there, I found their websites. I signed up for their free daily blogs. One Sunday morning, I emailed them both. They both replied directly to my emails, which I thought was very cool indeed. Hint: famous people tend to read emails on Sundays, just like the rest of us.

I applied for media credentials to cover BizTechDay 2010. Press passes were limited and made available to those who can verify they have 10K readers or more per month. We have much less, but we only started blogging a short time ago. I got a free pass. I was going to spring for the $595 for the event, but I like getting things for free just as much as I like spending money. I am quirky that way.

Both Simon and Seth were great, as were the other speakers. Scott Heiferman, Founder of Esther Dyson, Chairman of EDventure. Dana Mauriello, Founder of Profounder. Clayton Morris, FOX News Anchor. Lisa Gansky, Cofounder of Ofoto and Author of The Mesh. Joan Barnes, Founder of Gymboree. Then, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, there was an After Party. Free food and grog. I was not piggy, since I was working off of my free passes. Besides, I had to drive home at some point.

So, let’s review. I watched free lecture videos via of famous people that normally get paid big bucks to speak in public. I was able to meet these same people virtually via email, and then develop a real non-virtual relationship. I told them that I would meet them in person one day, and I did. I downloaded their books online, and read them electronically. We then connected via Facebook, and we have all exchanged ideas about business and marketing. Through today’s event I met their agent, Speakers' Spotlight ( who seems to know everyone on the planet. It turns out that all of the folks from the paid lecture circuit need MTP’s services, namely MTP’s mobile marketing services. Can you not see it? Something like, “Hello audience, simply text the word SETH to 54321 to get my new eBook at 25% off”.

The moral to the story? Other than gas, tolls and parking, all of this cost me nothing. The power of the Internet allowed all of this to happen, for free. Yes, there was some “sweat equity” involved, but since I started this chain reaction acting like the kid at Disneyworld, on Christmas, on my birthday, none of this felt like work. It was all fun. And now, it looks like it might even be profitable.

I have two sons in college; both are in the School of Business. I am quite confident that they learned something useful and meaningful in classes today. The big difference was that my day of learning from brilliant minds and industry experts was free, and theirs was not. Alas, I paid for all three of our days today - mine in New York and theirs in Connecticut.

You learn something new every day, right?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Time Machines

In youth we learn; in age we understand. ~Marie Ebner-Eschenbach

When I was very young, I used to hear the adults ask “Where were you when JFK was shot?” I assume that the same question was asked about Pearl Harbor. In every generation, there seem to be “where were you when” questions. As a kid, I used to think about how cool it would be to have a time machine, to be able to travel back in time and prevent certain things from ever happening. I could have been the hero that warned the US Navy about Pearl Harbor. I could have stopped Hitler before he ever wrote his book Mein Kampf. I could have told the captain of the Titanic to slow down and to be more careful. The list became endless; all of these opportunities for me to become a super hero, and save the world from needless tragedies.

When we are young, we observe but we do not yet understand. I just finished watching “The Reading of the Names” at ground zero. I have watched this ceremony every year, but for some reason this year was more emotional for me than in the past. While the names were being read, I had a flashback to my youth, and my fantasy of using a time machine to save the world. If only I could have traveled back in time, I could have prevented 9/11 from ever happening.

There is no such thing as a “time machine” and it is doubtful that any such invention will ever exist. But there is something that does exist today, and it has existed for hundreds of years. The clock on the wall and the watch on your wrist - these are indeed “time machines”. But these time machines are designed to have us focus on the present. These time machines identify the moment that is now – right now. With maturity, I now realize that traveling back in time would never solve the problems of the world. The list of events to alter would be never ending. My childhood idea of intercepting and preventing tragedies before they happen is flawed. There will always be some event, some issue that caused pain and suffering. It would be a never ending job, constantly traveling back in time.

But we can use the time machines that we all have today, for the same purpose. Our time on this planet is short. We must make every minute count. Today, I am remembering the events of 9/11 as if they were happening right now, today. The events of that tragic day are vivid and are still very real in my mind. I have indeed traveled back in time, not to prevent the tragedy, but to somehow make today – to make this very moment in time – better.

There are no H. G. Wells time machines, and I cannot physically go back in time to save anyone. But ironically, those who died, and the families who continue to suffer because of 9/11 are indeed using a time machine today, right now, right this very second. Today, I am being given the gift of “present time”. I am given the gift of this moment in time, to remember all the things that are precious, and to focus on all of the things that are important in my life. I am reminded right here and right now, to treasure every minute on this planet. I am being reminded that I should always strive to be a good husband, a good father and a good friend. I am being reminded that life is not fair, it is not predictable, and that we must never take anything for granted. Today is a beautiful day, and the weather is perfect. Just as it was on that fateful day several years ago. We must never forget the lessons that the past can teach us, if we are wise enough to pay attention.

The child in me still wishes for the time machine that does exist. I still would love to travel back in time, and prevent all of the pain and suffering of 9/11 from ever happening. The mature adult in me will have to settle for the time machine that does exist. The one that I look at several times a day, each and every day, to track my moments in time.

God Bless everyone who is reading this as we pray for those who have died, and pray for their families who continue to feel the pain of 9/11.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Passion Day

If you Google “Labor Day” you will learn something interesting about this national holiday.

The first Labor Day in the United States was observed on September 5, 1882 in New York City, by the Central Labor Union of New York, the nation's first integrated major trade union. It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike.

So, Labor Day was not created as a “thank you” by the bosses of the world to all of the employees of the world for a job well done. It was a calculated political move, to try to keep a lid on an already explosive situation.

Work is a four letter word. So is love. There is a famous quote “If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life”. We ask kids all the time, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answers are usually things like Doctor, Police Officer, Firefighter, Nurse, Lawyer, Teacher, Astronaut – career choices that in the minds of a child equal a life of excitement, noble achievement, personal rewards, and passion filled lives. Very rarely do children say factory worker, checkout clerk, or dishwasher at a restaurant.

Now, before anyone gets upset with me, the key word here is passion. I respect everyone who earns an honest living, regardless of their careers. I remember laughing at the quote from the movie Caddyshack where Judge Smails says “Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too.”

If you are going to do something with your life, do it with passion. If you are not passionate about your current job, or passionate about your current career path, make it your purpose in life to pursue your passion. It is never too late. You do not have to quit your job, and you do not have to go to work tomorrow and tell your boss to “take this job and shove it”. But if you have the chance to live with passion, to work with passion, and to be passionate about what you do with the little time that God gives us on this planet, I highly recommend that you do everything in your power to have your work = love = passion.

My neighbor is a landscaper, and he is a millionaire many times over. He loves everything about landscaping, and he talks about it every chance he gets. I on the other hand, do not own a lawnmower, and I detest yard work. Regardless of the financial opportunity, I would be a miserable failure at landscaping. It is not about the money. It is, and it will always be about the passion for the job. He built a wonderful landscaping business, all because of his passion.

I sell things for a living. Yep, that’s me, a lowly salesman. How many kids when asked will say “I want to be a salesman when I grow up!” Not me, I wanted to be a Doctor all my life, right up until I was in college. My nickname at Purdue was “Premed”. But I can honestly say that I am a very happy salesman, and I am very passionate about my job. My definition of a CEO? Best salesman in the building.

I hope that you have a safe, and relaxing Passion Day. Or Labor Day. I think you should make that choice for yourself.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Name is Earl

With Hurricane Earl approaching my area, I've been doing the normal hurricane preparations. Things like buying food, water, batteries, and bringing all the outside toys inside.

Right now I'm being told that it could just be tropical storm conditions, but there is a chance it could move more inland and cause more problems. There could be power outages, and it's possible for roofs or buildings to be compromised.
So, what do you do when your entire business is on a computer (laptop, desktop or server)?

According to the Association of Small Business Development Centers, the effects of a disaster can be quite profound:

• More than 1 in 4 businesses will experience a significant crisis in a given year.
• Of those businesses that experience a disaster and have no emergency plan, 43 percent never reopen.
• Of those that do reopen, only 29 percent are still operating two years later.

It is clear, disaster preparedness is central to business survival, particularly when it comes to protecting a company's most valuable and irreplaceable assets: its people and its data.

That's why it's crucial to have backups. And not just backups to an external drive, but to a remote location. I blogged on this topic last month (Long Pause Clients) but it is events like Hurricane Earl that make this worth revisiting.

I know that if my office were to be destroyed my business wouldn't. I could easily download any file necessary to continue. It would be difficult enough dealing with any kind of destruction but to add on top of that loss of important business documents or even family photos would just add to the devastation. Don't let it happen to you!

Just remember to do it BEFORE a disaster is coming your way, as it does take time to upload files to these remote locations. I have about 600GB of data that took 3 days initially to upload, and I have a full 20Mbps upload speed. Most internet connections have a high download speed, but a much slower upload speed. After the initial upload, it only takes me a few seconds every day, to back up the files that have changed since the last 30 minutes. So, my computers are never more than 30 minutes since their last secure backup, with all files saved off site.

Tape backups fail. External Hard Drives can be lost or stolen. There is only one way to do it, and that is the right way – automatic, encrypted, online backups to a secure facility.

Let’s hope that Earl comes and goes without incident. But what about the next storm? Or fire, flood, burglary, hard drive failure or other such inevitable event. Are you prepared?
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Speed Kills

When you sell technology for a living, speed always comes into the equation. You should buy the new computer because it is faster; more memory means faster. Buy the one with the faster hard drive, faster CPU and so on. Or, you should get the new broadband service, because it is so much faster than what you have now. People who write software for a living are always striving to shave a few milliseconds off the program processing time, as these saved seconds (when added up) can save a client millions of dollars . In the world of sports, speed is always a factor. The person who runs the fastest, or throws the fastest, or who has the fastest serve in tennis makes the most money.

Speed is a benchmark that seems to measure success in our world. Our pursuit of happiness has somehow become permanently linked to the pursuit of doing things faster, and not necessarily doing things better.

We are one of the slowest species on the planet. We can only run so fast. We can only do things so fast and remain safe. After that, the train flies off the tracks. We love our technology because technology allows us to “do things faster” than before, as technology supports our love affair with speed. But we humans are the lowest common denominator in the equation. The steroid crisis in sports comes from our pursuit of speed – bigger, faster, and stronger – at any cost. Even when it can cost an athlete their very lives and certainly their professional careers, some will risk it all to be just a little bit faster.

Drugs can cure, but they can also damage. I see technology in the same light. Used properly, technology can save lives, it can greatly improve life on earth and technology can make the world a better place. A business cannot be profitable without technology. But when used improperly, technology can easily do more harm than good. Technology can help the lowly human go much faster than we were intended to operate (both mentally and physically) until we reach the point of “unsafe at any speed”.

So, I have some choices to make today. I can use all of the technology at my disposal to try to do more today than I did yesterday. And then try to do it again tomorrow (faster) and then again, until I burn up and burn out. I can try to host five conference calls today, when I really should host only two or three. I can try to speak with ten clients all over the globe (feeling rushed, and thinking about my next call) while I am simultaneously checking email, and chatting live with someone in Skype. Or, I can slow down, and have deeper, meaningful conversations with five or six clients, and really make each one a quality conversation. will always remind me what’s next on my schedule, and my email inbox will beep at me all day long, following me from my office computer, to my laptop, to my Smartphone. There is always going to be something to do, something that needs attention. In business, it is always so tempting to try to go faster, to do things faster, and to speed up the process. In business as in sports, faster is always better, right?

Just as we all have a choice to only use drugs for good and noble causes, we must use the same logic with how and why we use technology.

I have two sons in college, living away from home. As I sit here and wonder how they are doing, I can email them, text them, call them on their cell phones, or do a video chat conference call. I wonder which of those technologies will best communicate to them how much I love them, and how much both my wife and I miss them.

It would be so easy to send a quick email to both of them. But in my heart, I know exactly which technology to use for this very important task; the slowest one. Pen and paper, and two first class stamps.

Friday, August 27, 2010

We have an App for that, too.

Armed with immediate, anytime, anywhere connectivity via their smart phones, today’s on-the-go consumers are no longer tied to their land line telephones and desktop computers. Mobile web access will surpass traditional PCs by 2013.

• The average number of Americans who used their mobile phone to browse the web grew by 61% in 2008 vs. 2007.
• Mobile bookings are expected to reach $160 million in 2010; 67% of overall travelers and 77% of frequent business travelers with web-enabled mobile phones have already used their phones to find local services and attractions.
• 71% of U.S. adults polled consider it safe to make a purchase via a mobile phone; 43% of respondents are willing to use their mobile phone to purchase hotel rooms and 40% are willing to use it to purchase tickets for travel.

It’s clear from these statistics that clients are becoming increasingly mobile-ready and as the trend continues to escalate, the need for your marketing efforts to keep pace will be paramount to engaging them — and keeping them engaged. From the delivery of personalized messages and promotions to expediting booking and reservations, mobile marketing unleashes a plethora of effective opportunities for connecting and interacting with your clients that were non-existent a handful of years ago.

Mobile Advertising on the Rise
U.S. mobile advertising spending will surge 85% to $593 million this year from $320 million in 2008, and it’s projected to hit $1.6 billion (yes…. billion) by 2013.

When you think about mobile marketing and advertising, text messaging is often the first activity that comes to mind. Optimizing message distribution via texting enables marketers to connect with consumers in a relevant, timely, and personalized manner. And by ensuring that texting campaigns are “call-to-action” based, marketers are able to efficiently track the effectiveness of the campaign.

Let’s say you were selling Gas & Electric savings to consumers nationwide. You could simply ask your prospect to text the keyword Energy to 70101, and they would get more information. And then, the “drip marketing” for the energy sale begins. Here, text the keyword Tom to 30101 and see what you get back to your cell phone. You too, can have a mobile business card like me!

As smart phones continue to enhance the on-the-go lifestyles of your clients, it is imperative that your marketing efforts become increasingly mobile. U.S. mobile phone subscribers will reach 308.7 million by 2013 — translating to a whopping 96.7% penetration — this is a consumer trend you simply cannot afford to let pass you by.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

“2010: A Earth Odyssey”

2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Arthur C. Clarke. The film deals with thematic elements of human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life, and is notable for its scientific realism, pioneering special effects, ambiguous imagery that is open-ended to a point approaching surrealism, sound in place of traditional narrative techniques, and minimal use of dialogue.

Yesterday, we moved my oldest son into his new college dorm room. Had I been better prepared, I could have videotaped the day’s events and released it under the title: “2010: A Earth Odyssey”.

The first noticeable thing was that every single person on the campus was totally connected. And I mean EVERYONE was wireless. I am not just talking about iPhones and iPads. 50% of the people had on Bluetooth headsets, and were talking to “someone” while carrying boxes and bins like ants at a picnic. The college library looked like a cross between Starbucks and a NASA mission control room. The kids are now carrying Kindles and tablet PCs, and hardly any paper books. The average student has a desktop, laptop and a Smartphone, so computers outnumber students almost three to one.

As part of student orientation, it was “mandatory” for students to register their cell phones with the campus security, as text messaging is the primary way that students will be alerted in an emergency. For the less than 1% of students who might not have a cell phone, one will be provided and added to your “Q card” account, which is the new form of electronic currency. No need to carry cash, ever. Paper money is so passé.

When I went to college, an overhead projector and a Texas Instrument calculator was considered to be cutting-edge technology. Today, lectures are sent out via Podcasts, “immersive” high definition videoconferencing with global professors is considered the norm, and the need to take down hand written notes is antiquated at best. No matter what your field of study, technology is everywhere. The genie has been let out of the bottle a long time ago.

The college graduates of today are the leaders of tomorrow. We might not have flying cars, but we certainly have come a long way from slide rules and three ring binders. My most significant epiphany of the day (besides the fact that college is freaking expensive): You better learn how to play nice with technology (and play nice with those who have mastered technology) because it is not going away anytime soon.

Despite initially receiving mixed reviews, 2001: A Space Odyssey is today recognized by many critics and audiences as one of the greatest films ever made. In 1991, it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. I highly recommend that you go online with Netflix, and rent a copy. Or go to your local “Red Box” and pick it up on DVD for $1. But wait – can you not just watch it on Hulu these days - for free?

If all else fails, grab your video camera and head to your nearest college campus.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

American Idol

What a beautiful world we would live in if relationships were everything, and money were nothing more than a useful tool.

I believe money has become an idol. The word 'idol' is not used a lot these days, but it was quite common a few thousand years ago. Here is my personal definition: Anything on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment is an idol.

If money is an idol and if “having the latest in technology” are the idols that we buy with our money, then are money and technology not one in the same? In today’s world, can we not easily exchange the words “they have lots of money” for “they have the latest in technology”?

Fast forward to today--and consider the technology that we buy. People can have an excessive attachment to technology. They can also see technology as a source to get what they want and as a protector to keep them safe from harm. The reality is that technology derives its power from belief, just as idols did thousands of years ago. The difference today is that technology is universally believed to be powerful. But the purpose of technology is to simply facilitate relationships. We have unfortunately gotten to a place where people want the technology without the relationships.

In 1983, I started selling cellular phones. Car phones were very expensive, and they had to be installed; there was no such thing as a portable phone. In the 80’s people would actually buy cellular phone antennas to put on their cars – no phone – just the antenna - to make it look like they had a car phone installed in the car. Idol worship! Same thing happened with beepers. Having a beeper or radio pager on your belt was a status symbol, telling the world that you must be someone important, and that you must be reachable at all times. Is there not some of that, with today’s iPhone and iPad? Are these business tools, or are they idols?

As a technology adviser and consultant, I had to learn this lesson by experience. My belief was "technology is power" and to sell the latest and the greatest technology to the client was the sole objective. After all, having the latest and greatest technology meant more power, and having more power in the business world is good. Yet I have seen people in business with the latest and greatest technology who were miserable and others who were filled with abundant joy. And, I have seen people with no technology that were miserable and others who were quite happy indeed. Yes, you can still be happy in today’s world without an iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and without the latest upgrade of Windows.

Today, what America needs are technology professionals dedicated to helping clients focus on relationships. Relationships (both business and personal) are far more fulfilling and beneficial than owning the latest technology.

So, the question to ask yourself is this: is the new iPhone, iPad or other whiz bang gizmo that you recently purchased (or are about to purchase) a tool, or is it an idol? Is the new High Definition videoconferencing system that you are installing going to be a useful tool for your business, or would Skype’s free service have accomplished the task? Do you really need a brand new laptop, or will a simple upgrade in memory do the trick?

Simon Cowell of “American Idol” separates the winners from the losers with brutal honesty. So brutal, in fact, that he is very entertaining to watch. But he knows exactly what he is looking for, and he clearly speaks his mind. After 27+ years in telecom and technology sales, I feel that I have (just a little) Simon Cowell in me, in separating the true valuable and important technology tools from the idols.

And, at least I know that I can’t sing worth a damn.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Offense vs. Defense

I am a Yankee fan. A favorite quote of mine is from the late New York Yankees "Boss" George Steinbrenner: "Look, if you're not on offense, you're on defense." I also remember the famous "The best defense is a good offense" adage that has been applied to many fields of endeavor, including games and military combat. I have been selling telecom and IT services since 1983. Throughout my business career, I basically have two kinds of conversations with clients. One is usually about saving them money, and the other is about making them money. I have observed that it is very hard to have both conversations, with any one client. They either love playing defense, or they love playing offense, but rarely does the client ever aspire to play both sides, at the same time.

People are usually of the “defensive” mindset, determined to reduce expenses, and to cut operational costs. Others love playing “offense” and they want to focus on growth, acquiring new clients and concentrate on business development. But which is the best strategy?

Let’s look at the numbers:
If a client is spending $1,000 per month on their telecommunications expenses (voice, data, wireless and wireline services) and I show them how to reduce their total telecom and IT spend by 25% they will save $250 per month. Not bad, putting $3,000 per year back into the cash flow of a typical small to mid-sized business is usually a welcomed strategy. But, if that same business owner could spend $250 per month - and by implementing proper technology-based sales and marketing strategies - they could GROW their business by 10% or more, they could be making thousands of dollars per month in new revenue, growing each and every month. Which strategy sounds better to you?

To me, eliminating waste is always a good idea, and implementing cost-reduction techniques is rarely a waste of time. If let’s say, a client was paying $0.05 per minute for toll free reservationless audio conferencing service, and they can have the exact same service (with same or better quality) for $0.02 per minute, why pay more for exactly the same thing? We are more than happy to take care of this for a client.

But, to me, the real way to be successful in business is to make “new” money, and that means playing offense. Most sports teams (except maybe for the 85’ Chicago Bears) became champions because of superior offense, not defense. I think the same goes for business. You can only save so much money, but you can never make too much money. There are only so many ways to reduce expenses, but there are an unlimited number of ways to make money.

And so it goes. Sports teams are usually known for their superior “offense” or for their superior “defense” but rarely are they known for both offense and defense at the same time. I never met a client in my business career that I could not help to save money, and that is a fact. And, I never met a client that I could not help to make money (assuming they accepted my advice). Under all circumstances, I always had the best long-term relationships with clients that we helped to dramatically grow their business through technology-based sales, and via implementing innovative marketing techniques. Saving money is always nice. But generating a client a profit where none could be found before, that always seems to be the sweeter victory.

It is always fun to see a great defensive baseball game, dare I say a “no-hitter”. But it is even more exciting to watch your team come from behind, in the bottom of the ninth - and with a flurry of superior offense they come back and win the game. I like watching a superior offense in action. Go Yankees.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Long Pause Clients

I received a phone call today that I always dread receiving. I can usually tell from the tone in a client’s voice; they are sick to their stomach and worried to death. Their laptop was lost or stolen. Or, their server crashed. Or, they had some sort of disaster that has caused them to lose all of their data, via a virus, malware or hardware failure. Regardless of the reason, the first question I ask is always the same: when was the last time you backed up your data? The longer the client takes to answer, the worse it usually is - the length of the pause tells me everything. It is very rare that the client answers “just a few minutes ago”.

In 2006, we formed a company to specifically address the “data” and security issues of computers. was born, the day after my own personal computer crashed. Just thinking back to that fateful day makes me nauseous. The pain of completely losing my own data – and I certainly knew better – lead to the birth of Until someone has a catastrophic loss of data, they will never know what it feels like to lose it all, with no hope of the photos, documents and files ever coming back.

The sad thing is that with today’s technology, there is no (zero) reason for any computer, laptop or server to permanently lose its data. For less than $0.30 per day, a typical computer can be completely backed up, and have full 24 x 7 virus and malware protection. The power of the Internet has made real-time cyber security and data protection possible. And yet, not a week goes by that I don’t receive at least one of those dreaded phone calls. For all those who care to listen: protect your data. Don’t rely on flash drives, or tapes, or external hard drives. Until the data is backed up automatically, frequently, encrypted and stored off-site, you are not fully safe. There is nothing worse than backing up you data every day, to then have the backup files lost or damaged. And, backing up data that is full of malware or infected by a hidden virus can corrupt files, and make your backup file sets worthless. Thinking you are protected and safe when you are not, is even more cruel a fate. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you can avoid the nightmare of permanently losing it all.

That is all I have to say. You must protect your data, the right way, every day, automatically, period. It is not a matter of if you will lose your data, but a matter of when you will be making that dreaded phone call. Please don’t be a “long pause” client when you call.

Weather Reports

Weather reports are wrong, consistently. We always laugh at all of the "weatherman jokes" and yet the weather report makes up 10 to 20% of the news. In a typical news show, 1/5th of the time is dedicated to talking about the "five day forecast" which is almost always wrong.  And yet, we watch. And then we complain. And then we watch again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Long Lines

I have been in sales all of my life, and I find people and human nature fascinating. When gasoline prices were at record highs just a short time ago, there would be long lines of cars waiting to buy gas at the local gas station, because their price was $0.10 less per gallon.  There are two other gas stations within 200 yards, but one had long lines of customers waiting to buy the “cheap gas” with cars wrapped around the block. People are willing to spend time and money, sitting still with their engines running, to save $0.10 per gallon.  And yet, these same people will not invest the same amount of time necessary to reduce their ongoing telecom or IT expenses by 20 to 40%.  They will spend 20 minutes in their car, waiting to buy gas, but they will not invest 20 minutes to reduce an ongoing unavoidable expense, such as their voice, data, wireless or wireline services.  And now, due to deregulation, the same ongoing savings is available for their home or business gas and electric bills.  Ah yes, the life of a salesman. Sounds like this might be a good job for Dr. Phil.