Sunday, November 22, 2015

We're Bugging Out!

A bug-out bag is a portable kit that normally contains the items one would require to survive for seventy-two hours, when evacuating from a disaster, however some kits are designed to last longer periods of time than just 72 hours. The focus is on evacuation, rather than long-term survival, distinguishing the bug-out bag from a survival kit, a boating or aviation emergency kit, or a fixed-site disaster supplies kit. The kits are also popular in the survivalism and prepper subcultures.

The term "bug-out bag" is related to, and possibly derived from, the "bail-out bag" emergency kit many military aviators carry. In the United States, the term refers to the Korean War practice of the U.S. Army designating alternate defensive positions, in the event that the units had to displace. They were directed to "bug out" when being overrun was imminent. The concept passed into wide usage among other military and law enforcement personnel, though the "bail-out bag" is as likely to include emergency gear for going into an emergency situation as for escaping an emergency.

The primary purpose of a bug-out bag is to allow one to evacuate quickly if a disaster should strike. It is therefore prudent to gather all of the materials and supplies that might be required to do this into a single place, such as a bag or a few storage containers. The recommendation that a bug-out bag contain enough supplies for seventy-two hours arises from advice from organizations responsible for disaster relief and management that it may take them up to seventy-two hours to reach people affected by a disaster and offer help.  The bag's contents may vary according to the region of the user, as someone evacuating from the path of a hurricane may have different supplies from someone who lives in an area prone to tornadoes or wildfires.

Where you going with this, Tom?

In today’s “living in the cloud” workplace, we are all connected. We all have email. We all have social media, smartphones, Facebook pages, LinkedIn, voicemail, Skype, VoIP. We have laptops, iPads, portable WiFi and the ability to be connected anytime, anywhere.

Scenario A: Bad Weather is Coming Soon!
If you KNOW that a (snow storm, hurricane, typhoon, etc.) is on its way, did you prepare your “Go Bag” in the cloud? Did you pre-record an updated voicemail message? Do you have a storm related autoresponder email vacation/away message all set and ready to go, at the click of a mouse? Can you re-route or forward your business phone lines, or change your phone tree greeting in seconds? Do you have a social media strategy all set and ready to go? Can you alert clients, vendors, suppliers and staff “via the cloud” and via your perfected “checklist” that you can activate in seconds?  If not, you have work to do. With today’s cloud technology, what is your excuse to NOT have such a strategy in place, ready to go with a click of a mouse?

Scenario B: Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Not everything comes with an advanced warning - but very few things in life are truly a surprise. Sadly, family members will have accidents. Sometimes minor, sometimes serious. Our children will cut their finger bad enough to need stitches - without any warning. In today’s always on, globally connected world, at any moment there can be an event that we “did not see coming.” But, were we really so completely and totally surprised? When it happens “to us” should we be so shocked that SOMETHING happened that caused us to change our plans for the day (or our plans for the week or the month)? If you never saw it coming, you were not looking very hard.

“Common sense is not very common.” We hear this saying all too often. Earthquakes have a way of sneaking up on us. Hurricanes, not so much. A young puppy who gets into the holiday candy might need an emergency trip to the vet. If you have “kids” (human or otherwise) you know that at any moment, your Monday Morning plans can change. If you are the primary caregiver to an elderly family member, and you are still trying to manage a career, a job, a life - did you take the necessary steps to prepare for the inevitable “Boss, I need to take a few days off” conversation? 

Did you properly prepare your “Bug-Out bag” out of respect for your boss, your clients, your vendors, your co-workers?  

I tell my global remote staff to think: how does a hospital, airport or even busy restaurant run? How does a grade school teacher “call in sick” without causing total chaos? They prepared for the inevitable. Teachers, waiters and even air traffic controllers can all get the flu. Everyone has parents, many of us have children. We all need to prepare to be prepared. It is our DUTY as responsible adults - it is our duty as global citizens to be prepared. Very few things in life are truly unforeseen. When we say that something hit us “out of the blue” it makes us look foolish for not being prepared for the inevitable. It’s called life people. Blaming it on being surprised, while knowing what we know about life on planet earth is never going to cut it.

Having our “bug-out bags” ready to go at all times is our responsibility. Technology can certainly help us to be more responsible citizens, but it starts with us. The tools (both physical and virtual) are there, but we need to pick them up and use them - before and during the storm.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

World Peace or Cash?

Surveys and focus groups

It doesn't matter what people say. Watch what they do.
The story is told of a focus group for a new $100 electronic gadget. The response in the focus group was fabulous, people all talked about the features of the new device with excitement.
At the end of the session, the moderator said, "thanks for coming. As our gift to you, you can have your choice of the device or $25."
Everyone took the cash.
Surveys that ask your customers about their preferences, their net promoter intent, their media habits--they're essentially useless compared to watching what people actually do when they have a chance. The media wastes their time and ours handicapping politics based on polls, on changes in polls, on expectations based on polls—it's sad. Polls are always wrong.
The best part of show & tell has never been the telling part.
~ Seth Godin

My blogs are normally about technology, knowledge and talent. I usually try my best to tie news stories and popular culture to how they impact the world for eCommerce, and collaboration, and how we “learn, work, live and play in the clouds.”

Seth’s words above were written for a marketer, or for someone targeting the business community and a financially motivated audience.

And then, Paris.
It doesn't matter what people say. Watch what they do. ~ Seth Godin
I read this again, and then again. These words seem to be more about the world in general, than marketing or business or sales. Seth’s words seem to be more about Politicians. Governments. Corporations. Leaders.
It doesn't matter what people say. Watch what they do. ~ Seth Godin
The entire world can now see in seconds: murder, torture, beheadings. Drone strikes, refugees, human rights being violated. It is now - right now, right here, in our homes, in our living rooms in HDTV. Because of the cloud, it is on our smartphones and via our Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. You cannot hide from it, you cannot look away. You cannot say you did not know. We shall all talk about Paris. We shall comment on it, post on it.
It doesn't matter what people say. Watch what they do. ~ Seth Godin
What’s next? What do we (all of us) DO next?
It doesn't matter what people say. Watch what they do. ~ Seth Godin
I paraphrase my friend Seth's words......
At the end of the session (our lives - our short time on earth) the moderator (God) said, "Thanks for coming. As our gift to you, you can have your choice of world peace or cash."
Please God, help us to choose wisely. Please give us the knowledge, technology and talent to choose wisely for our children, and for every child on earth.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Great Costume! You're fired!

The US economy is pretty scary right now, and we’re all watching our spending pretty closely. So what’s the one thing Americans are willing to shell out for in this economy? Costumes, decorations and entertainment designed to scare us even more.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $6.9 billion in 2015 for Halloween. To put that number into context, the same NRF survey found that Americans spent $3.3 billion as recently as 2012.

This biggest chunk of this money — $2.5 billion of it — will go to costumes. Of that total, a little more than $300 million will be spent on costumes for pets. We’ll also drop $2 billion on candy and just under that on decorations.

By contrast, the much larger holiday season spending category isn’t growing as quickly. We were projected to spend $447 billion celebrating Christmas 2015 and other end-of-year holidays last year, but that figure was a measly 2.3 percentage points higher than what we spent in 2014.

Current political and economic events generally put a crimp in our festive spirit. So what makes Halloween the exception?

Well, it appears that troubled times drive our zeal for escapism; romance-novel sales boomed during the last recession, just like extravagant musicals that were popular during the Depression. Add to that the fact that Halloween has undergone a shift from a sort of silly, kid- and candy-centric affair to a full-blown event for adults. This year, the NRF says nearly 70 percent of adults plan to celebrate Halloween. Bars all over the country hold parties for the 21-and-up crowd and manufacturers crank out costumes that definitely aren’t meant for family trick-or-treating.

Modern-day Halloween traditions are said to derive from ancient rituals intended to protect people from ghosts, harsh winters and crop failures. These superstitions seem primitive today; and yet, putting ourselves in control of scary motifs seems to provide a measure of security even now.

Great Costume, Dilbert! (Boss says to himself....oh, he is so fired!)

Here is the “Great Pumpkin” business lesson buried deep inside a witch’s cauldron: Oh, such Creativity! Energy! Passion! Hard Work! 

Congratulations! You won the prize for the most creative costume! I love how you converted your dog into Darth Vader! Look how you made a Millennium Falcon out of a baby stroller! It must have taken you 100 hours to create that robot costume!

Yes, today is the day AFTER the big national party, and many of us are recovering from the self-induced “sugar coma” we entered from eating “just one more” Reese's Peanut Butter Cup (my weakness).

Just remember: when you go into work tomorrow, your boss has you all figured out.

Yes, you who made an aircraft carrier out of paper mache and tin foil. You who searched the Internet for weeks to find just the right accessory for your costume. And you who “found the time and money” to make the most creative, most amazing, most impressive Halloween Costume of all time!

Ah yes. You - the winner for “BEST COSTUME EVER” cannot figure out how to: log into or find the time to get “The Penske File” finished. You who never shows up on time for the staff meetings, or cannot find the typos on the company website, or... (shall I go on?)

Just remember America, as you post your amazing Halloween costumes on Facebook and social media, your boss is watching you. Ah, now the boss KNOWS the real you. Your supervisor just saw how creative, and passionate and hardworking you CAN be. Just not for them.

Now, that’s scary.


George Costanza working on “The Penske File”