Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Noun or the Verb?


Practical contact with and observation of facts or events. "He had already learned his lesson by painful experience." Involvement in, participation in, contact with, acquaintance with, exposure to, observation of, awareness of, insight into. “His first experience of business.”

Encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence). "The company is experiencing difficulties." Undergo, encounter, meet, come into contact with, come across, come up against, face, be faced with. "Some employees experience harassment."

I like words. Some of my favorite words are the ones that have multiple meanings. LOVE is probably the most popular word that can mean many things. You can love pizza, dogs, your wife, a movie, your job, your friends, your people. The simple three letter word “run” has dozens of meanings. I am told that this word “run” sets the record for having the most different meanings. But today, the word “experience” is in my life, every single day, in a very big way.

Although I was never a teacher or formal “educator” I am deeply involved in the world of education. I have spent most of my career in and around the sales and marketing of TBLS (Technology Based Learning Systems). It struck me: education in all of its forms (K-12, High School, College, Corporate Training, Coaching…...everything) is experience.

Educators, Trainers, Coaches, they are all in the Knowledge Transfer business. When someone pays tuition to a school, they are purchasing the “experience” of all those who have come before them. Is Medical School not a type of “store” that is selling experience? A medical student is effectively purchasing the knowledge (the experience) of the entire medical profession.

By some twists of fate, I had the opportunity to work with the Disney organization. And from that, we are now working with all things “Orlando” and all those in and around Orlando. Since March, I have been back and forth to Orlando seven times. And that has been only seven trips to Orlando because I canceled a few meetings - or - they came up to New York City to meet with us up here.

The Walt Disney World Resort is an entertainment complex in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida, near Orlando and Kissimmee, Florida. The resort is the flagship destination of Disney's worldwide corporate enterprise. Is there anyone on the planet that has not been to Walt Disney World? If no…...your time is coming!

"Magic Kingdom" was often used as an unofficial nickname for Disneyland before Walt Disney World was built. The official tagline for Disneyland is "The Happiest Place On Earth", while the tagline for Magic Kingdom is "The Most Magical Place On Earth".

Disney is in the experience business.

So, it struck me. Everything in our lives is about experience. The noun AND the verb.

When we apply for a job: “Do you have any experience?”
When we sell something: “Oh, wait until you experience (the speed, the power, the…)”
When we are falling in (or out) of love: “I am experiencing a broken heart.”

A five star restaurant has taken “food” and made it an experience. One of the most well known guides is the Michelin series which award one to three stars to restaurants they perceive to be of high culinary merit. One star indicates a "very good restaurant"; two stars indicate a place "worth a detour"; three stars means "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey".

The more stars (in hotels or in restaurants) the better the……..customer experience. Is an Ivy League Education really worth the crazy money? You can get a degree from a school like or a school like  The difference in tuition can be dramatic. Will the overall delta in the “experience” match the price? At some point the law of diminishing returns comes into play. Is an education at an Ivy League School worth 10x the price? What are you exactly getting for your tuition? Bragging rights? Access to the Alumni network? My father used to say: “If you send a jackass to college, you get a smart jackass.”

Jobs. Education. Travel. Entertainment. Technology. Food. And of course……. People.

They say that happiness in life comes not from buying things, but from buying “experiences”. Ah, but the people that come in and out of our lives are not things to be purchased. Employees, staff, partners, contractors. Who we choose to work with, those we learn from, those we choose to train or to teach - these are the most important decisions of all.

Life = experience. The people who come in (and out) of our lives are the foundation of every experience of our lives.

In March of this year, I met the amazing Lee Cockerell of Disney fame. Suffice it to say, meeting Lee has DRAMATICALLY changed my life (hence the trips to Orlando).  

Earlier this year, I reconnected with someone that I first met many years ago (on Facebook, no less) who has now become the Executive Director of the (and she has become a good friend and now, a business partner).

Life = Experience = People.

The world has changed, and it is changing faster with each passing day. We no longer have to go to a store to buy something. We no longer have to turn on a computer to check our emails. We no longer have to buy a car, or even travel to a school for the experience of an education. The only constant is change, as they say. But, there is one more rule that has existed since the beginning of time:

The quality of our lives = the quality of our experiences = the quality of the people in our lives.

And the best news of all?  We get to choose. We get to pick the people in our lives. So, the next time you think about (your spouse, your friend, your employee, your teacher, your student, your client, your customer)

You are their experience, and they are yours. The people in your life - they are your life.

Be as nice to the people in your life as you would be to yourself. Treat the people in your life as you would treat yourself, because that is exactly what you are doing. And remember: we are ALL in the experience business, every single day. Just like Disney.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Is it safe?

Event Security is a hot topic space right now and will continue to be for some time to come. Safeguarding today’s stadiums, venues and arenas requires daily work with focused, concentrated efforts. The significance of ongoing training, education/career development resources for staff cannot be underscored.

Furthermore, the threats, challenges and vulnerabilities remain for those entrusted with duty of care responsibilities within the space.

Security is an aspect of sports that often gets overlooked, yet is integral to the entertainment value of the fan experience. This premise is shared all over the world. Agencies work as a team to ensure fans that their choice to attend a game won’t come with repercussions that will affect their lives outside of fandom.

Talk to anyone in the today’s Sports & Entertainment Industry ( a multi-billion dollar juggernaut) about what fuels the market. Most will tell you that it’s all about safety/security and the overall fan experience.

Billionaire owners, ownership groups, sports marketers, venue directors, contract security, guest services, box office, merchandising, security, those entrusted duty of care responsibilities, understand that along with corporate sponsors, the well-paying fan base drives the market.

I recently recorded a podcast with James A. De Meo. James is a Retired Nassau County Police Detective with over 25 years of law enforcement, security and consulting experience. I won’t steal my own thunder here, as you can listen to the podcast yourself on the website.

But here was the “thing” that stayed with me for hours…….long after the podcast recording was over:

We will never be safe.

The sheer magnitude, the complexity of trying to keep us “safe” at airports, football games, movie theaters, shopping malls - it grows with each passing day. Drones flying into stadiums. Cybersecurity issues. Malware. Campus shootings.

There is an innocence lost that our children, and their children will never recover. The same technology that allows us to enjoy Netflix, and Uber and Airbnb has also created a never ending battle of good vs. evil. A type of arms race of people trying to do us harm, and those trying to protect us.

I just pause and remember a simpler time, when the thoughts of going to a stadium or an arena would never, ever be associated with the words terror or fear.

They say that things work in cycles. I can only hope that we can cycle back to a simpler time.