Sunday, December 30, 2012

You have a blogger in your nose

I think you should blog. 

If you want a New Year’s resolution that is easy to start and easy to keep going, start a blog. Especially if you are an entrepreneur.  Here are some great reasons why you should be blogging in 2013 if you are not already doing so:

1. It’s your resume. “Hello, I just finished reading your blog and I don’t really have any questions. I just wanted to let you know that you are perfect for the job and I wanted to see if you would be interested.” Your blog, combined with your traditional resume is an online virtual “you”. Also, if someone wants to work with me, they should read my blog. Love me or hate me, it is hard to hide the real you when you blog from the heart.

2. It’s your new hiring tool. If you are trying to hire employees or contractors, they will want to know who you are and what you are about. Show people why they should be a part of your team. Show them the real you. Let people see why they should (or should not) be on board. Maybe they will not be a fit for your corporate culture. Blogging is a great way to get to know someone. Welcome to my dementia!

3. Network with people. You can stumble upon blogs that will help you with just about anything. Many times I Google “how to make / do / fix something. I find a few blogs on the topic, leave comments, and before you know it, new friends are connected. People that I never met before have helped me understand what I was trying to learn. After some back and forth on the blog, problems can be solved.

4. Turn chaos into clarity.  Ideas exist as something that lives in your head. When you write about ideas they make more sense. This is often the reason why people write business plans. Having a blog is a great outlet to make your ideas come alive. Yeah, you could do this in a paper notebook but that is not scaleable. Also, you can find business partners or new employees as they were first attracted to you via your blog.

5. Reflect on your past so that you can improve your future. When you blog, your thoughts and ideas are documented. Sometimes you may take a stance that may prove to be right or wrong. By documenting your ideas, you can reflect on how your ideas evolved. Looking at the past is critically important in understanding the future. This is why students at major business schools review hundreds of business cases. Learn from your past and prepare for your future - via your blogs.

6. Get peace of mind. I blog every Sunday morning, and I rarely miss. So that is 52 blogs per year. As I write I focus my mind on one thing. Focus can be hard in today’s multitasking world. I have emails waiting for me, but for now, I’ll ignore those and continue on with writing my blog.

7. Your Blog as your PR machine. Your blog can be your own Public Relations soapbox. It gives a voice to your views on a specific topic or industry. Your blog might help you win new business. In the past, we needed radio and TV to get our messages out there. Now your blog can do this for you.

8. He got skills. I enjoy writing, so I do it. I don’t know if I am any good but I like blogging. I’ve maybe taken two or three writing classes in college. Practice makes perfect and the more I blog the more my skills improve. When you consider that most work and sales today is done over email or online, you realize that it’s critical to have good writing skills.

9. Make, don’t take.  It’s very easy to get caught up with media consumption. Some days I feel like I spent my entire day consuming content. If you become a contributor instead of a consumer of content, you are now a part of the solution. Via your blog, you can become a builder, a producer.

So, you should blog in 2013. This is one of those New Year’s resolutions that you just might keep, as we all know that New Year's diet is never going to last past January. 

Unless of course, you blog about it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa's Fight Club

Santa Claus is comin’ to town, but you won’t be able to find him on Google Maps. (Not even the new version that just came to iPhones.)

NORAD — the North American Aerospace Defense Command decided to switch from Google Maps to Microsoft’s Bing maps for its annual NORAD Tracks Santa project.

This is the first time NORAD is inserting Bing maps into the interactive experience. Smartphone apps will track Santa this Christmas, allowing families to spot and pinpoint Santa through Bing maps on the iPhone, and Android and Windows Phone 8 smartphones.

NORAD relies on technology to reach a broader audience through its website, which includes families around the world. Twenty-nine percent of the site’s visitors are from the UK, 7 percent from Canada and 5 percent from Japan.

Technology has exponentially increased the tracking of Mr. C and that technology also includes social media. Yes, Santa Claus tweets.

NORAD’s Santa tracker has a Twitter following of close to 95,000, a Facebook page with well over a million likes and over 4,000 Google+ subscribers.

NORAD began tracking Santa from Peterson Air Force Base in 1955 when a child accidently called the base in hopes of speaking with Santa Claus. The phone number was misprinted in a Sears newspaper ad.  Children placing calls to Santa were actually sent to Peterson Air Force Base via the typo, and folks at the Air Force Base played along.

Only on the Internet could you find tech companies competing to track Santa.

But Google’s not giving up on the business of tracking Mr. Big. Using its Google Earth and Google Maps products they are tracking The Chairman of Jolly on its own this year with a brand new algorithm.

You’ve got two Santa tracker options to pick from starting on Christmas Eve. But how can they both be right?

The new Google Santa Tracker does not only live online. There is now a new Chrome extension and Android app to let you follow Santa.

Google’s got more to offer kids as far as entertainment goes. They have an entire Santa site where you can provide information about your a friend or family member and have Santa give them a call or send them an audio message via email. There’s also a few online games. The Santa Racer game lets you steer Santa’s sleigh through a track and collect presents and the Present Drop game lets you drop presents into moving chimneys.

Both Google and NORAD will begin actually tracking Santa on Christmas Eve. No word on if Santa himself plans to use Google or Bing Maps to get to all his destinations.

Let’s hope that Rudolph is ready to go "old school" with or without the power of the Internet. I think Rudolph “nose” to steer clear of using Apple’s maps this year (FAIL) that’s for sure!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I put only one word into my browser this morning: Newtown. 

The,_Connecticut link has already been updated.

I see articles linked to mental illness, gun control, bullying, and a growing number of topics related to this tragedy.

Politicians are already putting their spin on this situation. The media is all over this, with news anchors deviating from professional norms. People are breaking down on air, struggling to cope with this horrific event. This is all so hard to process.  Newtown has been changed forever.

The Columbine High School massacre (often known simply as Columbine) was a school shooting which occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. In the school shooting, two senior students named Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered a total of 12 students and one teacher. They also injured 21 students, with three other people being injured while attempting to escape the school. The pair then committed suicide.

Columbine is the fifth-deadliest mass murder committed upon a school campus in United States history; after the 1927 Bath School disaster, the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, and the 1966 University of Texas massacre, and remains the deadliest for an American high school.

Columbine sparked debate over gun control laws, the availability of firearms within the United States and gun violence involving youths. Much discussion also centered on the nature of high school cliques, subcultures and bullying, in addition to the influence of violent movies and video games in American society. The Columbine shooting resulted in an increased emphasis on school security, a moral panic aimed at goth culture, social outcasts, gun culture, the use of pharmaceutical anti-depressants by teenagers, teenage Internet use and violent video games.

Columbine in 1999. Newtown in 2012.

This morning, I listened to the Governors of Colorado and Connecticut give their opinions on Sunday morning television on what was done, what was not done, and what could have been done.

When I learned of the Newtown tragedy, it felt like all of the blood was drained from my body. I will not be able to make any conclusions on this, now or probably for many days.  I don’t know how much to blame technology - or on the lack of technology. Was it a lack of security? Schools are not vaults; we cannot protect our schools like a bank.

Is it the ease of access to violent video games?  Have you seen the quality of graphics in today’s violent online games? Anyone with mild to severe mental illness might have a problem telling reality from fantasy. Do these incredibly realistic online video games not reward players for achieving horrific results? Do these violent video games not keep score based on body count?

We have seen people use guns, homemade bombs and even airplanes to do horrific, evil things. We have seen people convert anger, possibly fueled by mental illness into events such as Newtown or Columbine.

I don’t know if technology could have helped, but it seems that between 1999 and 2012, we have not made much progress. I don’t know the numbers. I do not have access to the statistics. I can only say what I feel. People will argue and say it is not about the gun control, it is not about the violent movies or video games, it is not about bullying. Then what is it?

What if it is not any one thing - but all of the above?

I am 52 years old. When I was a kid in school, getting sent to the principal’s office for chewing gum in class was a big deal. I did not grow up in a bubble, but we never had such horrific events. What happened in our world in the past 40 years? I do not think I am being naive, but something changed in the world in my lifetime. We cannot remove evil from the world, but we can love each other. We can treat each other better. Much better.

I feel that we let the people of Newtown Connecticut down. I feel like we let our entire nation down. I feel that we did not learn from Columbine, nor did we learn from any of the horrific events of the past. If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.  

Columbine was a murder - suicide.  Newtown was a murder - suicide. Why?  

What did we learn about murder - suicide since 1999? When a plane crash occurs, the make and model of plane does not fly again, until they find the cause of the accident. Why does the USA have such a problem with violent crime, compared to the rest of the world?

I do not know what was learned since Columbine, but I know how I feel. I feel like we took no positive steps - we did not learn from the past. That is my personal opinion. If the events of Friday are not enough to change our behavior, what will it take? I pray for everyone who is suffering. I pray that the leadership of this country wakes up. Enough is enough. I don't care who is offended, I don't care who is "for or against" guns, or privacy rights, or any other debatable topic. Doing nothing (again) is not acceptable. 

This country was founded by people taking a stand. This country became a world power, because its citizens, its people have a long history of stepping up and finally saying "ENOUGH! We are not going to take it any longer! We have had enough, and we demand change. Enough."

We can do better,and we must do better.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Red Kettle

 In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. He only had one major hurdle to overcome -- funding the project.

Where would the money come from, he wondered. He lay awake nights, worrying, thinking, praying about how he could find the funds to fulfill his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city's poorest individuals on Christmas Day. As he pondered the issue, his thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. He remembered how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called "Simpson's Pot" into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.
The next day Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling." He soon had the money to see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas.
Six years later, the kettle idea spread from the west coast to the Boston area. That year, the combined effort nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy. In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years. Today in the U.S., The Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods.
Captain McFee's kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries. Everywhere, public contributions to Salvation Army kettles enable the organization to continue its year-round efforts at helping those who would otherwise be forgotten.
When I was growing up, Christmas and the holidays were connected to "the Red Kettle". Putting a dollar into the Red Kettle made me feel like I was part of something bigger. It made me feel special, like my dollar was going to become the "magic dollar" that helped to change a life. Sometimes Santa's helpers would be ringing the bell next to the kettle, which always prompted questions about Santa, Christmas Magic, and how the heck was Santa going to see every kid in the world on Christmas Eve. 

And now, a little Christmas Holiday Magic, courtesy of the Internet.

What is the Online Red Kettle campaign?
The Salvation Army Red Kettles have been an American tradition since 1891, helping raise financial support for critical Salvation Army programs and services year round.  This campaign allows you to host your own Red Kettle - online.  You become a vital part of the Christmas holiday efforts when you help those in need by hosting an Online Red Kettle and filling it with donations from family, friends and colleagues.

What type of Online Red Kettles are available?
Individual Kettle - An Individual Kettle is your own personal online kettle where you can invite others to donate. 
Team Kettle - A Team Kettle consists of multiple Individual Kettles.  Funds raised by each Individual Kettle within the Team Kettle are combined and reflected on the Team Kettle page.
Company Kettle - A Company Kettle consists of multiple Team Kettles.  Funds raised by each Team within the Company Kettle are combined and reflected on the Company Kettle page.  Individual Kettles can also directly join and support a fundraiser for a Company Kettle without being a part of a Team.

Remember how you felt as a kid, putting that single dollar in the Red Kettle?  Thinking how that dollar was going to make a difference, and how that dollar was going to make someone happy? Remember how it felt to be "empowered" to make a difference, even as a little kid? You will still see this magic today if you look for it - parents giving dollars to their children, to let them put the money into the Red Kettle. Everyone is happy in that moment, the parents, the children and of course all of Santa's Helpers as in that moment, everyone is in alignment. Everyone is living the spirit of the holiday, standing next to that Red Kettle. 
It is good to put money into the Red Kettle, but watching a child do it, that is really special. You know exactly what that child is thinking as the money drops into that magical Red Kettle guarded by Santa and his helpers. 
It just does not get any better than this, does it? 
I would ask you to prayerfully consider putting a Red Kettle on your website. Or sending out a email to promote your own Red Kettle. Want to make it even better? Get your kids involved. What a great family project for the holidays. I guarantee you that you will feel wonderful, and empowered to make a difference, just like you did when you are a little kid.  
And remember, Santa is always watching. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What are they thinking with the free Wi-Fi at the mall?

Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE:SPG) is an S&P 100 company and the largest real estate company in the world. The Company currently owns or has an interest in 332 retail real estate properties in North America and Asia comprising 241 million square feet as well as a 29% interest in Kl├ępierre, a publicly-traded French REIT with a portfolio of more than 260 shopping centers in 13 countries in Europe. They are headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and employ approximately 5,500 people in the U.S.

  If you visit you will most likely find a Simon Property Mall near you. I went shopping on “Black Friday” with my two sons, mostly for the entertainment factor. Of course it was at a Simon Mall.

Here is what I found to be amazing. The entire mall had free Wi-Fi, even in the parking lot. Every shopper in the mall had smartphones in their hands. Not just cell phones - but smartphones.  I would say that most had iPhones, but I could not find a “regular” cell phone in the building.

For the first time I witnessed people using their smartphones while they were actively shopping. Simply scanning the bar codes of the item told you if the price on the item you were look at was good, great or terrible. It showed you what you could get the same item for online, also saving you sales tax and shipping. It showed product reviews. It was like having a professional shopper in your hand. All it took was one person doing it, and everyone would learn from the leader. People would say to strangers "would you scan this for me" if they did not know how to do it. 

And let the haggling begin!

I saw people holding up their smartphones, showing the clerks behind the counter why their sale price was no good. Or why they could get it cheaper online. Or why the store 200 feet away had a better price, or had a better instant coupon. All of these poor kids with holiday jobs at the mall, they did not know what to do but shrug their shoulders and smile. Happy Holidays!

Here is the question: why did the largest real estate company in the world give FREE Wi-Fi to everyone in the mall - so that the smartphone shoppers could beat up their rent paying tenants in said mall? Many people did not need the free Wi-Fi to use their smartphones, but now Simon Properties made it way too easy. By giving free Wi-Fi to every single shopper, they basically gave all the power to the consumer. Anyone with an item “on sale” at 50% off was caught red-handed, as we all can see that they just raised the prices just days before to then offer the 50% off discount. How embarrassing for the store owner.

Shopping with a smartphone. The smartphone genie is officially out of the bottle. The shopping malls of the future will continue to morph. Retail stores will need to compete against the smartphone shopper, battling against free shipping, no sales tax and hassle free returns without having to leave your home or office.  

I did my best to shop locally on Small Business Saturday, but it was very hard to not check pricing with my smartphone. I knew I was paying more, but I was supporting my local community. I don’t know how long this will last, but I am thinking that the era of the smartphone shopper is here to stay. 

And not just during the holidays.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fade to Black

Black Friday is the name given to the day following Thanksgiving Day, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at 4 am, or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season. 

Black Friday is not an official US holiday, but many non-retail employers also observe this day as a holiday along with Thanksgiving, giving their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year.
The day's name originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that "Black Friday" indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit for the year, or are finally "in the black".
For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 am, but recently many had crept to 5:00 or even 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme last year when several retailers (including Target, Kohls, Macy's, and Best Buy) opened at midnight for the first time. This year, Walmart led several other retailers in announcing it would open its stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, prompting calls for a walkout among some workers.
Black Friday is now the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Black Sunday??? You can go online today buying anything that you want at "Black Friday" pricing. You can make your purchase via your iPad, and pick up at the store at your convenience. What's next? Are we going to just jump to Black November? Why not just make the entire month of November "black" and be done with it?

Now I have an idea.  
Every year when I pay my taxes, I am asked if I would like to donate $1 to the Presidential Campaign fund. I always say yes, out of fear that someone at the IRS is flagging all returns that say no. 

This year, why not have all online stores do the same?  Ask: "Would you like to donate $1 to Hurricane Sandy Relief"?  You are already shopping online. You are saving gas, tolls, parking. You are saving shipping fees and sales tax by shopping online. Think about it. 

$1 vs. the billions of dollars that will be spent online between now and Christmas. One single dollar would not be missed. One hundred pennies. What would this money do for the families that have been devastated by the storm? The money generated for those who need it the most would be truly amazing. If we used last years numbers, $1 times 226m equals just short of a quarter of a billion dollars raised for Hurricane Sandy relief in one single day. In one day!

The National Retail Federation releases figures on the sales for each Thanksgiving weekend.
YearDateSurvey PublishedShoppers, millionsAverage SpendTotal SpendConsumers PolledMargin for Error
2011Nov 24Nov 27226m$398.62$52.5 billion3,8261.6%
2010Nov 25Nov 28212m$365.34$45.0 billion4,3061.5%
2009Nov 26Nov 29195m$343.31$41.2 billion4,9851.4%
2008Nov 27Nov 30172m$372.57$41.0 billion3,3701.7%
2007Nov 22Nov 25147m$347.55n/a2,3951.5%
2006Nov 23Nov 26140m$360.15n/a3,0901.5%
2005Nov 24Nov 27n/a$302.81n/an/an/a
Now, I would love to see Amazon, Best Buy and everyone else make this an option at online shopping cart check out. I would like to see this option at every cash register in the retails stores as well. In 2011, we spent $52.5 billion on Black Friday. The average person spent $398.62 on Black Friday last year. This year, it will be even more. 

It might be too late for this $1 donation idea to take off. This year, the Capone household will keep track of what we spend on Black Friday. We will then send a nice donation to the Red Cross and to Catholic Charities USA. The Capone clan will be saving a ton of money on Black Friday, and we can't send some of that savings to those who have lost everything? Ahem. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Take a picture

Geek Alert Begins here: Digitizing or digitization is the representation of an object, image, sound, document or a signal (usually an analog signal) by a discrete set of its points or samples. The result is called digital representation or, more specifically, a digital image, for the object, and digital form, for the signal. Strictly speaking, digitizing means simply capturing an analog signal in digital form. For a document the term means to trace the document image or capture the "corners" where the lines end or change direction. A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs by recording images on an electronic image sensor. Most cameras sold today are digital, and digital cameras are incorporated into many devices ranging from PDAs and mobile phones(called camera phones) to vehicles. <End of Geek Alert>

Google eBook - Image Scanned from Paper Book Original

Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast. As of this blog post, there are still areas of New York without power. Lives were lost. The damage from Sandy might exceed $50 Billion. Is climate change real? Is this a trend?

When people are interviewed standing among the rubble of Hurricane Sandy’s damage, there is one theme that is common. What was lost that can never be replaced? What is the one loss that is the most avoidable?

We lost our pictures. We lost our documents. We lost our memories.

Buildings can be rebuilt. Cars can be replaced. Even the most serious physical damage can be addressed. But the one thing that cannot be replaced, the thing that no amount of money can repair, the thing that even the most comprehensive insurance policy cannot possibly cover is ironically the most avoidable.

Every photo, every document, every slide, every video can be digitized. Baby Pictures. College Diplomas. Birthday Party Photos. Wedding Photos. Little League Game Trophies. Class Pictures. All of the things that were hung on the refrigerator in the kitchen could be (and should be) digitized.

 Who has a calendar hanging somewhere in their kitchen? Each month, use a cell phone and take a picture. Capture those 30 days of memories. What did that take, four seconds? That one photo will trigger a flood of memories.

We live in a digital world. Paper books are constantly being replaced by eBooks. “Physical” assets are constantly being replaced by digital copies.

When we talk about “backing up your files” we think of hard drives that crash, and laptops that get dropped, lost or stolen. In today’s world, there is no excuse to ever lose a digital asset, not with all of the internet cloud tools at our disposal.

Maybe we can change this thinking.  Maybe we can start thinking of it as “backing up your life”.

Take your cell phone and stand in the corner of the room. Take a picture. Move to the other corner, take a picture, and repeat this process until you have a full image of the contents of the room. You now have a digital archive of that room.  If you did this just a few minutes several times a year, you now have:

  • A time capsule for your family memories
  • An invaluable tool for insurance claims
  • A way to reconstruct and recover after a disaster

Go into your children’s bedroom. Do this before or after cleaning up, up to you. Take a picture of the contents of the room. Take a picture of the handmade art. Take a picture of the school awards hanging from the bedpost. The stuffed animals on the bed, the posters on the wall, the contents on the nightstand. What books were you children reading at the time? Now you will remember - ten, twenty, thirty years from now. You have it all in an archive, safe and secure off-site in the cloud.

Ladies: how long would it take for you to make a photographic digital archive of the contents of your closet? If you lost all of your shoes due to Hurricane Sandy, and you wanted to claim them on your insurance policy, what would such a digital archive mean to you? I understand that one single pair of “Jimmy Choo” shoes can be more than $100 to replace. Can this possibly be true? Do people really pay a lot of money for shoes?

There are many things that obviously should be digitized, backed up and archived in the internet cloud. But it is the non-obvious things that people easily miss. The family pictures. Grandma’s hand-written recipes on index cards. Grade school handmade art saved in shoe boxes from their proud days on display on the kitchen refrigerator. Some things are easier to digitize than others, but once you start down this road, it is amazing what you discover. Make it a hobby, make it as important as changing the batteries in the smoke detectors. Just do it.

  • Take a picture / scan it / copy it / digitize it
  • Backup it all up in the internet cloud

Think of this as your family archive, your family time capsule. Yes, the internet has changed everything, but you need to help it along, to be a hero after the disaster. With or without the reminders from Mother Nature, you should digitize your life. It is the right thing to do.

"For Excellence in Digital Archiving"

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Listen to your mother

Hurricane Sandy was a tropical cyclone that devastated portions of the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States in late October 2012. In diameter, it was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, with winds spanning 1,100 miles.

Sandy is estimated in early calculations to have caused damage of at least $20 billion. Preliminary estimates of losses that include business interruption surpass $50 billion (2012 USD), which, if confirmed, would make it the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane in history behind only Hurricane Katrina.

It had a notable influence on the presidential election by raising the issue of global warming. In the United States, Hurricane Sandy affected at least 24 states, from Florida to Maine, with tropical storm force winds causing impact in states as far west as Michigan and Wisconsin. The cyclone brought a destructive storm surge to New York City on the evening of October 29, flooding numerous streets, tunnels and subway lines in Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, Coney Island, the Rockaways and other areas of the city and cutting off electricity to parts of the city and its suburbs, especially Zone A areas near waterways which were issued evacuation orders. Severe damage occurred in New Jersey, especially in the communities along the Jersey Shore.

I live in New Jersey. The damage from Hurricane Sandy is beyond words. As of this blog post, the temperature is dropping, and there will be many without power tonight. And, they are predicting a Nor’easter for this week. My wife and I were spared from the storm, as we checked in to a local hotel early Tuesday morning. I was able to work comfortably without interruption. My wife, our dog Bella and I survived with very little damage to our home.

It is times like this that I think of my mother. My mother always knew best. Mom always said that “Mother Nature” was never a force to be ignored. No one ever takes on Mother Nature and wins. My mother would always worry if we had enough warm clothes, a blanket in the car, and a flashlight with fresh batteries. I was born in New Jersey, but when I was twelve years old we moved to Boca Raton, Florida. I remember living in “Hurricane Alley” for years, and we were the best prepared family for any tropical storm.

My mother was my muse when I formed  We cannot hope to win a battle with Mother Nature. But we can do our part to be prepared, to do our best to survive and recover. And then, to help others. FEMA says that “the first 72 are on you” which means that for 72 hours after a disaster, you need to expect to receive little or no help from the government. You need to be prepared to take care of yourself, for at least 72 hours.

Everyone reading this Sunday blog post has survived Hurricane Sandy, but will we ever learn? Will we take the necessary steps to prepare and to be ready for the next storm? Will we finally listen to our mothers? 

Be safe.


Everything that you see below can be found via  Many of these products and services are 100% free to MTP valued clients. Please do your best to be prepared. And remember, the first 72 are on you.

Solar and Hand-Crank Powered Emergency LED Flashlight with Radio and Mobile Phone Charger. Free to all MyTotalProtection clients.

Product Features

  • Super Bright LED Flashlight-LED bulb provides over 100,000 hours of emergency light.
  • AM/FM Radio-Excellent reception for tuning into emergency broadcasts.
  • Solar Power-Solar panel allows you to charge the internal battery by placing in direct light for unlimited usage.
  • Hand Crank Power-Built in generator allows you to charge the internal battery by cranking with your hand so that you never run out of battery power.
  • Mobile Phone Charger-Can help save lives, by providing enough power for  voice or text conversations. Comes with universal adapter that connects to your iPad, Tablet PC or cell phone's car charger.

Flo n' Go pump gives you gas station functionality with away-from-the-pump convenience. Patented design prevents overflows with auto shut-off, restart and siphon control, so fuel transfer is fast and safe. Attaches to all plastic Jerry cans; adapter included to fit Jerry cans. EPA approved.  Free to all MyTotalProtection clients courtesy of MTP.

NeatDesk is a high-speed, duplex desktop scanner and Digital Filing System. Scan receipts, business cards and documents in one batch while the software identifies, extracts and organizes key information. Scan every important document and photo, have have digital files save and secure in the cloud. How many people lost family photos or other irreplaceable paper documents during the storm?

  Data backup is essential to a business’ survival.  If a sound backup plan is not in place a business is vulnerable to valuable data loss and it can result in business closure.  They just can’t recover from the loss of data.  Data is the heart of a business.  Without files, documents, and operating systems a business simply can not function.  Backing up data using removable storage such as external hard drives, flash drives, cd’s, tapes, etc are at best unreliable.  Fires, theft, hurricane, tornado's, power surges, unintentional deletion and more are real dangers for any business no matter the size.  These types of dangers can affect anyone and are the main reasons why removable storage is not the most effective way to back up data.  They are susceptible to the same dangers as the computer itself and if both are lost what would a business do?  Try it for free:

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

I want to MEET meet you

I am going to meet someone really cool this week.

It is someone famous. It is someone that I admire, someone that I wish to emulate. It is someone that I first met via Facebook. And now, I will get to meet them - live and in person.

And then it hit me today. For the rest of my life (or at least until Facebook collapses) I will have only two kinds of friends. The kind that I first meet in real life (and then “friend-ed them” online) or the kind that I first meet online, and then met them in person.  

That’s it.

Virtual friends that become real, or real friends that become virtual.

There will always be Skype, and VoIP and even HD Video Conferencing. There will always be emails, and tweets and online posts. But I don’t think anything will replace the power of true face to face interaction.

I sell technology for a living. I am convinced that distance learning is future of education as well as business, and that technology based learning systems will continue to change the way the world learns, works and plays.

But nothing will make me feel the way that I am feeling as I write this blog post. I don’t think I will ever feel this excited to get a tweet, or read a post, or do a Skype video call with anyone. This is going to be real. I am meeting someone that I really admire - live. Nothing beats this feeling of anticipation and excitement.  

Distance learning is the future of education. The college experience will never be the same for all future generations. But no amount of 3D high definition “anything” will replace that visceral feeling when you meet that special person live. It will not matter if it is your teacher or your client. Communication while within your personal space (handshake distance) will become the gold standard for personal interaction. In the future people will turn in expense reports to cover such “handshake” meetings. “But boss, an HD video conference was just not enough, I needed to MEET meet this person!”

Now on your own Facebook account: are they your virtual friend that you actually met, or are they your real friend that you chat with online?

“Yeah, they are your friend alright, but did you ever MEET meet them?  

Huh, did you???”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Listen to me!

 I'm a fan (and a long-time student) of Body Language. In a world where technology has made global communication easy and immediate, there remains numerous situations where good old-fashioned, face-to-face communication is paramount to creating the most beneficial outcomes. Regardless of which mode of communication is most appropriate for the situation, there are several barriers that can derail even the best intended communication.

Perceptual Barriers
How you approach a conversation can easily determine the difference between engaging and persuading the other person or subconsciously sabotaging your efforts from the start. Example: A salesman had heard that the new buyer was already sold on a competitor and would listen politely to other vendors, but - had already made up his mind. Armed with this rumor, the salesman chose not to spend much time making his proposal and just happened to "make a comment" that garnered an unexpected response from the buyer—a response that quickly indicated that he actually was open to seriously entertaining the salesman’s proposal. By approaching the situation with a preconceived idea, this salesman nearly sabotaged his own sales efforts.

Physical Barriers
Closed doors, walls that separate and distance people, even staying seated behind a large desk can place a barrier between two communicators. The more open the environment, the more the potential for strong communications.

Language Barriers
Language issues can arise from two areas—cultural language differences and industry jargon. It’s all too common for people to use industry jargon, forgetting that clients, while familiar with your industry, may not fully comprehend the jargon shortcuts. To avoid potential conflict, use words and terms that anyone could understand and leave the jargon for industry colleagues.

Cultural Barriers
While language from differing cultures can be a natural barrier to overcome, don’t ignore other cultural practices that may be mistaken for rudeness or lack of professionalism. Take time to understand potential differences and find a common ground from which to communicate.

Emotional Barriers
This can be one of the most difficult barriers to overcome. When the emotional issue is yours, it is critical to set your emotions aside in order to have productive communication. When you sense another’s emotion is the issue, be sensitive and respond accordingly. Most importantly, never let your emotions alter the ability to build, rather than detract, rapport.

Stress Barriers
People respond differently when they are under stress. Learn to identify stressful situations and modify your tone and approach so as not to be misunderstood.

Gender Barriers
Although this barrier has decreased through the years, the reality is that it still exists to some extent. Research has shown that men and women tend to form their thoughts differently. Take this into consideration and use clarifying statements to ensure that clear understanding is achieved.

Certainly the use of technology (such as HD Videoconferencing) can be a great asset when it is used appropriately. Yet it is extremely important to remember that nothing nurtures relationships like face-to-face. When face-to-face, individuals develop more confidence. When customers know that you take the time to show that you have their best interest in mind, that’s a winning customer relationship.