Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hiding Your Easter Eggs in Plain Sight

When our kids were young, we hid Easter Eggs around the house.  It was a big deal. I have great memories of watching our boys running around the house, inside and out, searching for their eggs.  The goal was clear – collect as many eggs as you could find – put them in your basket, and bring them back for the final tally. Some of the eggs were easy to find, hidden in plain sight.  Some were hidden so well, they were never found.  Many weeks after Easter had long passed we would once again search for Easter Eggs, but this time it would be my wife and I hunting for eggs - using our “sense of smell”. 

*Tip: if you are going to hide Easter Eggs inside the house, count them before you hide them.

When we are young, the adults in our lives lay out our Easter Eggs for us to find.  We are sent on our way to search for our treasures – to seek and find our purpose in life.  The goal of the Easter Egg hunt is clear: find more eggs than everyone else.  Competition starts early, and it carries throughout life. 

A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, in-joke or feature secretly placed inside of a work such as a computer program, web page, game, video, movie, book or crossword. This practice is similar in some respects to hidden signature motifs such as Diego Rivera including himself in his murals, Alfred Hitchcock's legendary cameo appearances in his movies, and various “Hidden Mickeys” that can be found throughout the various Disney Parks.

My two boys are now in college, and they will (before we know it) be hiding real Easter Eggs for their own children.  Today, I have decided to hide some “virtual Easter Eggs” for my two sons – right here in plain sight.  If they log in and read my blog today, they will see them, and hopefully place them in their “basket” of goals for their lives.

·         Success is the intentional, pre–mediated use of choice and decision. Unless you choose – with certainty – what it is you want, you accept table scraps by default.

·         The world is plump with opportunity. With boldness and conviction, stick a fork into the goals you want by being decisive.

·         You are born with great capabilities, but you will not achieve your potential until you call upon yourself to fulfill it. You will rise to the occasion when it presents itself; yet, to assure self–fulfillment, you must provide occasions to rise to.

·         The DIFFERENCE between what one person and another achieves depends more on goal CHOICES than on ABILITIES.

·         The profound differences between successful people and others are the goals they choose to pursue. Individuals with similar talents, intelligence, and abilities will achieve different results because they select and pursue different goals.

·         Each decision affects WHAT YOU BECOME.

·         There is no escaping this; the smallest choices are important because - over time - their cumulative effect is enormous.

·         Never overlook the obvious: The nature and direction of your life change the instant you decide what goals you want to pursue.

·         Once you make a decision, you start down a path to a new destination. At the moment the decision is made, your decision to pursue a goal alters what you are becoming. Just one spin of the lock's dial – a single choice – can alter your life, your destiny, your legacy.

·         Think about it - your goal decisions represent and express your individuality. You seal your fate with the choices you make.


·         Your dialog with success is ultimately a solo one. Decisions and goals made must be your own if you are to call your life a success.

·         Always establish the best goals you can. Goals are the seeds of success - you become only what you plant. The quality of your harvest is a direct reflection of the quality of your seeds...your decisions!

·         Indecision is the big eraser of opportunity and potential. Risks and costs accompany every decision; however, the price of decision is far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. When it comes to decisiveness, squatters have no rights.

·         How long have you dreamed of being, having, and doing what you really want? Think big, as when it comes to your goals, the size of your ambition does matter.

Regardless of your beliefs and convictions, some things were just meant to be shared and enjoyed by everyone.  I hope that you enjoyed my “virtual Easter Eggs” as much as I enjoyed hiding them – right here in plain sight. 

Now, what is that smell...............?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Model Citizen

When I was growing up as a kid, we built models.  You would beg your parents to take you to the toy or hobby shop, and buy a model kit.  You might have saved up your money, to buy the model with your own money. If you were into model making, you had all of the tools, the paints, the glue and everything that was needed to set up your workshop at home.

You had to buy the model kits.  You had to read the instructions, and assemble the model pieces in just the right sequence.  You had to wait for the glue to dry, so in some cases, you had to stop and wait for the next day to move on to the next step. Once the model was finished, you would then paint it.  You could always tell a lot about the kid by studying the models that they built.

Did they follow the instructions?  Did they have attention to detail? Did they have enough patience to let the glue dry, before moving on to the next step?  Some kids built models that looked like they could be on display at the Smithsonian.  Some looked like they were not completely finished or not even painted (and yet there they were, on display).

The only reward that one would receive from making the model was the sense of pride of putting on display the final product. Kids did not get paid for building the models. Some kids had dozens of models proudly on display in their bedrooms – model airplanes hanging from the ceiling, model cars and rockets on the bookshelf.  My favorites were the “Monsters of Film Land” and I had them all.
Kids don’t make models today. They don’t have the patience.  They would never think of having to wait to “let the glue dry” to move on to the next step.  Kids today do not take the time to build anything, especially something that can only be put on display in the privacy of their bedrooms.  Yes indeed, you could tell a great deal about the person who made the model.

Today, the Internet has replaced the model kits.  Kids today have no time to wait for anything like allowing the glue to dry. They need immediate satisfaction, and they need to post it on YouTube – right this minute.  Their cameras on their cell phones have replaced their model paints.  Kids today also take “creative credit” for simply forwarding a video made by someone else, as if they were the creative genius behind the work.  In today’s Facebook world, simply forwarding a funny joke or posting a viral video is just as good as creating the work yourself – you get the same credit as if you did it all on your own.

I miss my youthful days of building model rockets, and taking them to the park to launch them.  There is something clearly missing in today’s fast-paced world, and I think it is as simple as having the dining room table covered in newspapers, with paint and plastic model parts ready to be transformed into art.

The world needs more model citizens, and I am afraid that our kids today will never experience the satisfaction of a good old fashioned project completed “on time and on budget”. I know this – I will be starting to ask this question when interviewing new candidates for MTP:

“Did you build models when you were a kid?”

I will look to see the expression on their face as they tell me about their favorites. That will tell me everything that I need to know. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"One small step for man, one giant leap for the Yankees."

The term Yankee (sometimes shortened to "Yank") has a few interrelated meanings, usually referring to someone either of general United States origin or, more specifically within the States, to people originating in the northern United States, or still more narrowly New England, where application of the term is largely restricted to descendants of the English settlers of the region.

If you are a fan of baseball, you either love or hate the Yankees.  There is really no middle ground here. When the season starts, there is an “assumption” that the Yankees will win the World Series.  If you are the coach of the New York Yankees, you might get fired if you don’t win the World Series.  Forget about making the playoffs – if you start out your season, have a winning season and you don’t win the whole damn thing, you can find yourself out of a job.

The New York Yankees are expected to win, every game, every time.  Why not? They have the highest paid players in the history of the game. The best of the best play for the Yankees, and it has been that way for years. They play in a stadium that is arguably the greatest sports stadium in the world.  The NYC market is “the” market for sports (and making money) by several levels of magnitude. How can the Yankees not win every single game they play?  Heck, they should CRUSH most of their opponents, right?

And yet, the New York Yankees don’t win every single game. Not even close.

In July of 1969 a different team of “Yankees” landed on the moon.  On July 20, 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon. He said the historic words, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."  A fellow Purdue man, Neil Armstrong made all of “Yankee Fans” back home very proud.  I was a nine year old Yankee fan for life – both kinds.  It was great to grow up as a Yankee.

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if the USA was not the first to reach the moon.  In President Kennedy's speech to Congress, on May 25, 1961, he expressed a concern that the United States was falling behind the Soviet Union in technology and prestige. He challenged the nation to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. At great risk to life and billions of dollars in expense, we showed the world what it is like to be a Yankee.  Ever since that historic event, I think that we all have had the tendency to just assume that the USA (just like the baseball Yankees) will win every game.  Every game, every time, we are supposed to win.  It is our destiny - it is our God Given Devine right as the greatest nation on the planet to be number one.

Does anyone reading this know how close we came to having Apollo 11 NOT safely land on the moon?  If you research it, you will learn that it was truly a miracle that the landing (and the lift-off) from the moon back to earth ever happened.  It is very interesting (and enlightening) reading, now that the facts are made public after all of these years. It really was a miracle.

At fifty years old, I am a lifelong Yankee fan – both varieties.  I love the New York Yankees, and I will go to as many home games this year as possible.  I will see them go to the World Series this year, and watch them as they win it all.  I will also see the USA continue to be the best country on the planet.  The USA shall continue to produce the highest quality products - have the highest standard of living - and set the mark for everything in the world of technology and innovation. Yes, it is great to be a Yankee.

And if “us” Yankees don’t make it to the “World Series”? Well, we better learn how to play nice with the other teams, because you never know how things are going to turn out. Today, as we are reading this, we are all Yankees.  

Just remember, you never know what team you will be playing for next year. And I am not just talking about baseball.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Apple has announced it plans to acquire Sprint

In the latest deal in a wave of consolidation sweeping the wireless industry, Apple has announced it plans to acquire Sprint, and its stake in Clearwire. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but there is a provision in the deal for Apple to also buy out Clearwire's other investors, which include Google, Intel, and several cable firms. 

For Apple and Sprint, this deal represents a quick resolution to several long-term challenges facing each company. Sprint, which had been reeling in the wake of the AT&T/T-Mobile deal, gains the iPhone, the cash it needs to buy out Clearwire from its existing investors, and a needed psychological lift after years of being pummeled by customers, the media, and analysts. Dan Stressee (pronounced Stress-ee), Sprint's CEO, expressed delight at the news, saying: "I was looking at plowing all of the profits I was just starting to make again into lawyers and lobbyists to fight the AT&T deal. I met with Steve last week and we agreed that we'd prefer to focus on just selling a #$&%$load of phones."

Steve ['creating lotsa'] Jobbs, seemed similarly ebullient. "Sprint completes us", he said, recognizing that a wireless network is "the only part of the value chain I don't already control."  A network is a critical component of Apple's cloud strategy. The company is building a super-secret, underground, $1 billion data center in North Carolina, codenamed: Operation: Beat Google and Amazon At Their Own Game. "I realized that Sprint and Clearwire own a boatload of spectrum", said Jobbs. "Plus, by getting Sprint to throw in Clearwire, I take Google and the cable companies out of the picture as investors. So, Ha." Apple is going to need all of the spectrum it can get if it wants to offer cloud-based access to all of the music, apps, and video content to the hundreds of millions of devices it sells every hour. Despite his well-known disdain for telcos, Jobbs spoke highly of Sprint and Clearwire. "Combine them and you get "fast", and "simple", which is what we're all about."

Apple, predictably, was not prepared to comment on its cloud strategy, though its CFO, Tim 'I can' Cooke, said in a recent interview that "we hope by 2013, our customers will never have to physically connect their iDevice to a computer again." Sources tell me the plan is called Operation Sync the Cable.

Ironically, Jobbs and Stressee met, secretly, at the same bar near Redwood City where, nearly a year ago, Gizmodo's Jason Chen found an early version of the iPhone 4, mistakenly left there by an Apple engineer. "I needed to get those demons out of my system", said Jobbs. "Plus, I know that no Apple employee would ever set foot in the place again." The two men hit it off immediately. "Dan is clearly the best pitch man among the operator CEOs", says Jobbs. "I really like his folksy manner." In an immediate goodwill gesture, Apple will provide Sprint with a cash infusion, so its next round of TV commercials can be produced in color. "Yeah, it is 2011 after all", said the typically understated Stressee. 

Addressing concerns that there might be layoffs at Sprint/Clearwire, Jobbs said the severance package would include an iPad, and tickets to Disney theme parks and the upcoming Cars 2 (Jobbs is on the Disney and Pixar boards). "Who needs more than that?", said Jobbs. 

Customers Are Winners

Customers are clearly among the winners in this deal. They'll be able to buy an iPhone from all the major U.S. operators. There were rumors that Apple wanted to make all future iPhones in the U.S. exclusive to Sprint, but Jobbs realized that this wouldn't pass muster with the DOJ. Given that he slipped by the feds, relatively unscathed, in the stock backdating scheme, Jobbs decided he didn't want to ruffle any feathers.

One key benefit for consumers is that the Apple-Sprint deal solves the "CDMA iPhone problem" of not being able to handle voice and data calls simultaneously. A consumer can now talk on a Verizon iPhone with one hand, while running a data session on a Sprint iPhone with the other hand. In order to facilitate simultaneous voice and data, Verizon and Sprint, in an uncharacteristic moment of cooperation, will be offering a "Buy One Get One Free" (BOGO) deal on the CDMA iPhone for the next three months. Said a Verizon spokesperson: "I gotta admit - those AT&T ads are pretty effective."

Reaction Across the Industry

Needless to say, there was plenty of reaction from companies across the industry.

Verizon was, particularly, peeved, having waited for three-plus years for AT&T's iPhone exclusivity to run out, only to then witness the T-Mobile and Sprint deals signed in a fortnight. The company plans to oppose the deal. Said a Verizon spokesperson: "We were content with 'Ruling the Air'. Apple wants to 'Rule The World'."

AT&T, which thought it now had bragging rights to being the "biggest and baddest wireless carrier" in the country, said it did not plan to oppose the deal. "I'm a gambling man", said AT&T Mobility CEO, Ralph de la Vegas. "I'm bettin' on every smartphone platform - iOS, Android, Windows, Symbian, WebOS, BREW, BADA, you name it." True to form, the company is unveiling a new advertising slogan, 'if you want it, we've got it'.

Google's stock took a major hit from the announcement. "We were so used to the operators spending billions of dollars to advertise Android phones", said George 'I am Not Helmut' Schmitt. "We might actually have to spend our own money to market the things."  Asked what Google might do to get a leg up on Apple, one analyst commented that Google could improve the customer service experience for Android. But Schmitt said Google is sticking to its strategy: "I promise you, it will never be possible for an Android customer to call us and actually talk to a human being."

In a related development, taking advantage of the mania around cloud services, Oracle announced that it would rename its Sun subsidiary, which had been underperforming of late, guessed it...

RIM, which has seen its stock slide precipitously amidst all the competition in smartphones, seemed prepared for an Apple-Sprint scenario. It has renamed all existing Blackberries "Blackberry Classic", hoping to put a retro spin on the messaging-centric devices. It has also been seen handing out Playbook flyers to all those standing in line for an iPad2.

Amazon is clearly gearing up for a tectonic battle with Apple and Google over mobile services, apps, and the cloud. Emphasizing that it remains the only one-stop-shop on the Internet for just about anything, an Amazon spokesperson snipped: "let them find an app for that."

Among the wireless and digital media giants, Netflix seemed perhaps the most perturbed. Said the company's CEO, Reid 'the battle of' Hastings: "Man, we've taken on video stores, Blockbuster, Redbox, Tivo, Hulu, Cable on Demand services. We thought it would be sufficient to offer all possible content across all possible media, to all possible devices, at an impossibly low price. But even that's not enough."

Even though this is clearly the right move for Apple, the company is sensitive to possible regulatory and customer concerns about becoming too powerful. In one sign of humility, Apple has decided to rename its MobileMe product, which it has been revamping as part of its forthcoming cloud-based offering, to MobileYou. "We thought MobileMe sounded a bit egocentric", said an Apple spokesperson.

Still, as Apple focuses on closing the Sprint deal, many analysts believe the much-anticipated iPhone 5 launch might be delayed until fall. Even though Apple rarely comments publicly about future plans, the Apple spokesperson hinted that there might be some validity to the rumors: "Listen, we still don't know if there will be a new Mad Men or NFL season. Focus on that." 

Hope you enjoyed this April Fools edition.