Friday, December 25, 2020

My Last Blog

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The goal of life is not to have our lives mean something to ourselves. The goal of life is to have our lives mean something to others. ~ 
NYDLA talent Simon Sinek

This shall be my last blog of 2020. This time next week shall be the first day of 2021. I rarely skip my Sunday Blog, but it has been known to happen. Like last Sunday - no blog. Yeah, well, I had no muse last week. 

MUSE ALERT!!!! It's Christmas Day 2020. 

There are eight federal holidays in the United States, and Christmas is the only one that is religious in origin. New Year's Day and Thanksgiving are secular. The other five federal holidays honor labor, fallen soldiers, veterans, OUR BIRTHDAY (USA) and MLK. But this birthday party - Christmas - literally "Christ Mass" is the feast day of Jesus of Nazareth. 

Is there (was there?) really a War on Christmas? Is the Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays debate still raging? Anyone with too much time on their hands can Google the "birth" of Santa Claus, a pivot from Saint Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop who's feast day (December 6th) was once an occasion for giving gifts to children. Blame Madison Avenue USA who transformed St. Nick into the old elf, with the beard and the red suit and hat. And the image that we all have today of Santa is from the Coca-Cola ads, right? 

I find it amazing how here in the USA, December 25th became a feast of capitalism. I guess we were not paying attention to the lessons of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, or It's a Wonderful Life. I mean, Mr. Scrooge does send a Christmas Goose to Bob Cratchit, right? And don't get me started on the Grinch who carves the roast beast. 

My uncle Herman turned 89 last night - Christmas Eve. My son Tommy organized a "group call" and that was fun. Did you know that December 24th and December 25th are the two rarest days to have a birthday, other than February 29th? Well, Uncle Herman knows, as he reminds us all of that fact - every year. "No one will ever forget my birthday!" Ah yes, they may not always reach out, but they will always remember.

This Christ Mass Feast of Jesus of Nazareth is looking a little bleak. The current POTUS is setting monsters free, playing golf while the rest of our leadership is voting down even the most modest COVID-19 relief packages. Infection rates of COVID are up, all the ICU beds in Southern California are full. We are not able to gather together as we normally would. But, we light our outdoor lights on December 25th because it is the culmination of the solstice celebration - the darkest and longest day of the year. You know, the pagan festival that honors the Sun God? I really should not Google stuff.

My uncle was born on Christmas Eve. Hard to forget his birthday. My son Tommy got married this month - 12/06/2020. It was a COVID COMPLIANT modified wedding. And it was perfect. And I don't think I will ever forget Tommy and Danielle's wedding anniversary. 

And then, it hit me. Just this morning - Christmas Day morning. THE CHRIST MASS. The Feast of Jesus of Nazareth. Birthday Celebrations. Wedding Celebrations. So, of course I had to Google The Parable of the Wedding Feast. 

In the New Testament times, a wedding was a very sacred and joyous thing. Some wedding celebrations even lasted up to or more than week. Jesus said, "When you make a dinner or a supper, don't call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbors, or perhaps they might also return the favor, and pay you back. But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind - and you shall be blessed because they don't have the resources to pay you." 

Now (in full disclosure) I am not 100% sure that Jesus said those exact words. But I know this to be true: The goal of life is not to have our lives mean something to ourselves. The goal of life is to have our lives mean something to others.

A wedding is like a birthday, right? The first day - the birth of something new, the beginning of something remarkable. The Parable of the Wedding Feast, On Jesus Birthday. Do we KNOW that Jesus was born on December 25th? Most people say that was most likely NOT the date. 

Ya know something? (as my son Tommy would exclaim loudly when he was young...) Jesus COULD have been born on 12/06/2020 - Santa Claus Birthday - and Tommy's Wedding Day! Or any day. We are not even totally sure Jesus was born in the winter

Or as my good friend Chuck Dickens would say:

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol 

Our Capone Family Christmas Miracle

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Curtain Call

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A curtain call (also known as a walkdown or a final bow) occurs at the end of a performance when one or more performers return to the stage to be recognized by the audience for the performance. 

In film and TV, the term "curtain call" is used to describe a sequence at the end of the film and before the closing credits, in which brief clips, stills, or outtakes featuring each main character are shown in sequence with the actor's name captioned. 

I'm old enough to remember the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which featured a theater-style curtain call at the conclusion of their series finale. The cast broke character, and it was very emotional. It was like the cast was actually in my home. Like good friends saying "so long, see you soon." 

This week I participated in the Intrado Virtual Digital Summit - A Virtual Event for Communicators. Last year we held the event in NYC and streamed the event to the world. This year, due to COVID, the event was 100% virtual. It was a full day of presentations, from people living in every time zone. 

For years, technology has been used to deliver high-impact content and virtual events. Marketing, Public Relations, Internal Communications, Investor Relations - all have been using technology to connect with an audience for a long time now. But since COVID, virtual events, product launches, investor days, marketing webinars, employee town halls - these were (and still are) 100% in the cloud. Virtual or nothing, at least for now. 

Ever since the COVID lockdown, I have been working from home. Last year, I would spend one or two days a week at our 11 Times Square office, which is 23 miles east of my New Jersey home. We have been forced to go totally virtual this year. No Times Square, no Javits Center. No Lunch 'n Learns, no Sunset Seminars on amazing NYC rooftop bars. 

But I realized something this week. My presentation was only 15 minutes long. I chose to use no slides, no PowerPoint. Just me, speaking from the heart, to a few million friends. "Welcome to my home, North America" is how I felt. And right before I started to speak, I remembered Andy Warhol's words - in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes", which appeared in the program for a 1968 exhibition of his work. 

I decided to just speak - to the world - from the heart - for 15 minutes. 

My Home Office - Virtual Backdrop

All of the presentations for the day were very well done. Virtual Event Technology has truly come of age. In the future, once we start having events LIVE from New York City again, I am sure that all events shall be hybrid events - live - supported by virtual technology. The power of LIVE and VIRTUAL will be the way we live, learn, work and play in the global cloud economy - now and in the future. 

There was no curtain call for the presenters of the Intrado Virtual Digital Summit - A Virtual Event for Communicators. But I do see that I have 1,437 new connections on LinkedIn that were not there the day before. I guess my new jokes were not so bad after all. 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Don't Press It

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I love, LoVe, LOVE The Press Lounge in NYC.  

I cannot tell you the number of times we have hosted events at The Press Lounge. Just a few blocks from our office at 11 Times Square, they have one of the most incredible views of the city. Specialty cocktails, seasonal farm-to-table fare, and the most incredible views from their indoor / outdoor space that is heated and covered. Did I mention the views?

Alas, these days we are not ready for hosting any NYDLA "Sunset Seminars" in the clouds. One day in the future for sure, but not yet.

Today is my son's wedding. My oldest son. Thomas A. Capone Jr. aka "Tommy Baby".  

And we celebrate this wedding day as we (all of us) are suffering under COVID.

What would have normally been an AMAZING day and evening of celebration with friends and family, we are operating under COVID. And we need to be OK with this. 

As I write this blog post on 12/6/2020, from Tuesday to Saturday, 1,000,882 new coronavirus cases were reported in the US, according to data from John Hopkins University, bringing the total to more than 14.5 million confirmed cases and deaths from the virus. And as the impacts of Thanksgiving travel and gatherings begin to reveal themselves, and hospitals fill to capacity, experts say it is likely only going to get worse. 

Thankfully, there is new hope. Federal government officials are promising coronavirus vaccines soon - some even before Christmas. It almost sounds as if people will be lining up everywhere before New Year's to get a vaccine. The federal government has promised that any coronavirus vaccine shall be provided free of charge to the American public. That would be very unlikely to change under a Biden administration. 

I shall end this blog now, as my wife and I need to get ready to drive to Long Island. My son is getting married today. My oldest son will become a married man today, in very COVID COMPLIANT ceremony. Come this time tomorrow, TEAM CAPONE shall have grown by one. And I'll have another daughter. 

Folks, that is what matters. 

It's not about the amazing sunsets from NYC locations such as The Press Lounge. It's not the wedding receptions with music and dancing. There will be a day in the future for a CAPONE PARTY - a major blowout. A celebration that will make the news......

But today, just for today, we shall attend a very COVID COMPLIANT wedding ceremony. It's not the size of the wedding party, or the size of the reception - and I can prove it.

I'm already celebrating. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Whatcha got for me?

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Where do good ideas come from? 

Chapter One: The Post

One of my favorite people who I never met "in real life" pinged me on LinkedIn yesterday with an idea.  Here is the cut/paste from my LinkedIn feed:

Tom, here is the idea and I have "no idea" how to pull it off:  The Great Feed

You have a feed. I have a feed. Thousands of others have feeds here on LinkedIn and on various social media. What if we all got together to use our feeds to feed the millions who are without food here in the USA right now? Maybe it works like this: we create a post and if you like and share it, every action turns into money. For every 1000 posts, we donate $1000 to FeedMore or such an organization. But we need help, we would need an angel donor (or donors). I don't have the money, but I do have the energy and you have the network as do many others here. We could do it until the holiday ends. Let's discuss and I'd love to hear other ideas. Happy Saturday, Tom. 

Chapter Two: The Bolt of Lightning 

For me, ideas are like bolts of lightning. Sudden illumination. The destruction of ignorance. Jung sees lightning as liberating the soul. 

Within minutes (literally... minutes) of my friend's post in Messenger, I bought So, now it's real. I spent $10 so this is no longer just an idea - it is REAL. The way it went down: read the post, say wow, buy domain name. Never let a good thunderbolt go to waste.

Chapter Three: What would Johann Wolfgang von Goethe do?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (August 28, 1749 - March 22, 1832) was a German poet, playwright, novelist and scientist. He is considered one of the greatest literary figures of his age. In 1765, Goethe left home to study law, as his father wished, but due to his illness (probably tuberculosis) he returned home without a degree. However, while at university, Goethe was much more absorbed with writing, but he burned some of his works as he considered them unworthy. 

Often regarded as Germany's Shakespeare, he was also a "quote factory" of sorts. Here are just a few quotes that will change the way you see yourself and others. If you Google Goethe Quotes your computer will blow up:

You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. * Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game. * A person hears only what they understand. * Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success. * As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. * To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking. * Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together. * Everything is hard before it is easy.

And my favorite: "Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it."

Buying the domain name makes it real. Spending $10 makes it real. Putting a post on social media, writing this blog, action makes the idea REAL. 

And so: was born on 11/28/2020. I forced the birth of my friend's idea. I have "no idea" if this shall be final domain name, or how many iterations or versions of THE IDEA will push forward over the next several days. I told my web team this morning to get the "coming soon" page up, ASAP. It is 7:44 AM EST on 11/29/20 and they will all see this blog. Ahem. 

Epilogue: The Highest Cannot Be Spoken; It Can Only Be Acted

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do. Today, right now, there are people who do not have enough food for their family. There are people right here in the USA who are going to go hungry. Today. Right now, there is Hunger in America. Enough. 


I never met my LinkedIn friend "In Real Life" but something tells me we shall indeed meet. And something tells me that I'll meet many people in his network. I think this is a good place for one of MY quotes, to end today's blog:

Show me your friends, and I'll show you who you are. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020


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Jaws was released in the Summer of 1975. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie almost never made it. The mechanical shark would not work, the movie was way over budget. "We started the film without a script, without a cast and without a shark," said Richard Dreyfuss on the film's troubled production.

When the screenwriter of Alien was pitching the studio for the movie (the soon to be sci-fi classic) he described it as "Jaws in Space."

Jaws was the prototypical summer blockbuster, regarded as a watershed moment in motion picture history. It won several awards for its music and editing. It was the highest-grossing film in history, until the release of Star Wars in 1977.

Ah yes, Star Wars also almost died in production. In 1971, George Lucas wanted to film an adaption of the Flash Gordon serial, but could not obtain the rights. NO. That was a big no. If he got a yes, there might have been no Star Wars. After directing American Graffiti in 1973, Lucas wrote a two-page synopsis, which 20th Century Fox decide to invest. By 1974, he had expanded the story into the first draft of a screenplay. Today the Star Wars franchise total value is estimated at $70 billion. 

This: I watched the most recent episode of The Mandalorian last night, as they roll out a new episode every Friday on Disney+ 

Also this: Baby Yoda is selling at Kohl's this Christmas Season for around $24.95

Disney paid more than $4 billion in 2012 to acquire LucasFilm, the production company responsible for the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" film franchises.  At the time, Lucas was getting ready to retire, and Disney, led by then-CEO Bob Iger, was taking aggressive steps to broaden its appeal to consumers. In 2009 Disney bought Marvel Entertainment for about $4 billion. I guess if you have something to sell to Disney, you should put a price tag of $4 billion on it to speed up the negotiation. 

In 1996 Marvel was mired in bankruptcy, and a decade later banked its nascent film franchise on a second-tier superhero called Iron Man. The film helped to pull Robert Downey Jr. from a scandal-ridden career, and went on to make $585 million worldwide. Stanley Martin Lieber (aka Stan Lee) you shall be missed. 

OK, Tom. Pivot! 

My son Tommy is getting married in two weeks. Two Sundays from today. And the COVID-19 pandemic is raging. It is getting worse, not better. Last night we did a Zoom meeting with the family to talk about the wedding, and how every day is making the events of December 6th, 2020 a "game time" decision. What we do know: On December 6th, I'll have two daughters, not one. And the Capone name shall grow (again) by one. But that's about all we know for sure. There WILL be a Wedding Ceremony. Everything else: ask me on the evening of December 6th and I'll give you a full report. 

On November 13th, I got a Friend Request on Facebook. I'm close to 5,000+ friends, and I really don't accept friends to my personal page very often. In fact, I purged many over the last year. I ignored the friend request, but they persisted. "Hey Tom, we used to be best friends, don't you remember? You drove me around in your Formula Firebird and drove me out to PURDUE one time and taught me how to drive and...and......and...."  

Oh, wow. A kid that I mentored when I was in my 20's. I accepted the friendship, but he wanted to talk on the phone. I'm kinda busy. I told him via chat that we would talk one day soon.

"Well, hopefully one day soon because I was given six months to live about a month ago. I would love to hear from you. The only reason I am active on Facebook is to connect with some old friends and stuff. Unless I get a new heart I don't have much time."

We spoke for an hour. I was blown away, as the last time I saw or heard from this kid (kid?) was at my mother's funeral in the early 80's. It turns out that after we lost touch, he went to PURDUE like me. Suffice it to say that he led an AMAZING Forrest Gump life. For at least an hour, he spoke and I listened. I felt like I was the one listening to someone pitch "Forrest Gump" to a Hollywood studio.

"Tommy, I hate being sick. I hate not knowing if I'm going to be able to walk my daughter down the aisle one day, or see my grandkids. Talking to you makes me feel like I'm 16 again and that I have the best 21 year old friend in the world. You never treated me like a kid - you always respected me."

I was a mentor and I did not even know it. So many times in life, we no have idea how our words, our actions, our behavior will impact others. Today, the Facebook "brand" has some repair work to do. Did Mark Zuckerberg have any (any) idea what the future held for THE FACE BOOK when the social media platform was born in a Harvard dorm room? Could anyone predict that in the year 2020, Baby Yoda would be the must-have toy? Or COVID-19?

Jaws. Alien. Star Wars. The "kid" from Newark, New Jersey who followed me to PURDUE. You never know how things are going to turn out. You cannot control the future, but you most certainly can control the present. YOU CAN control how you treat other people - today. 

I have two amazing sons, Bobby and Tommy. When growing up, Bobby was called "Baba" and Tommy was called "Tommy Baby". TAH-MEE BAY-BEE has been my battle cry since March 2nd, 1990. And now, on December 6th, 2020 no matter HOW MANY (or few) people attend the COVID compliant wedding ceremony, I'll be there. And there shall be a TAH-MEE BAY-BEE shout out. 

Tommy Baby. Baby Yoda. From this day forward I'll never see or hear "Yoda" again, without having an instant mental flash of my two sons, their wedding days, and our amazing growing family. And I'll smile. 

I guess THE FORCE is with me, eh? 

Guess what - it is with you as well.

Baba and Tommy Baby

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Finishing Finishing School

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A finishing school is (was?) a school for young women that focused on teaching social graces and upper-class cultural rites as a preparation for entry into society. It would focus primarily on deportment and etiquette, with academic subjects secondary. In the USA, it is sometimes called a charm school. 

Yeah, this was actually a thing. 

Through much of their history, United States finishing schools emphasized social graces and de-emphasized scholarship. Society encouraged a polished young lady to hide her intellectual prowess for fear of frightening away male suitors. The mission: get a husband. 

I was born in 1960, and grew up during the Space Race. I started watching the miniseries The Right Stuff on Disney+ this month. Astronauts and their families become instant celebrities in a competition that will either kill them or make them immortal in the quest to be a part of Project Mercury. The show brings up the concept of female astronauts - women in space. And they basically laugh at the thought. Women Astronauts??? Please. 

My wife and I also watched the Netflix miniseries The Queen's Gambit. Set during the Cold War era, orphaned chess prodigy Beth Harmon struggles with addiction in a quest to become the greatest chess player in the world. It seems like everyone on the planet is watching The Queen's Gambit, so I won't waste my time suggesting that you watch it.  But you should. 

This is what hit me. Today, you have an INFINITE number of streaming options. It is hard to find a show that everyone seems to be watching - a show that everyone seems to love. But The Queen's Gambit has stayed on top the platform's Top 10 list since its release in October. If you did not already watch it, I'll bet someone (like me) told you that you should be. 

There is something highly soothing about watching people play chess - an analog game in today's world of digital everything. And in the miniseries, there is luxury air travel, fancy restaurants and posh hotel rooms, and all the things that we are currently missing during the days of COVID and quarantine lockdowns and social distancing. 

Both of these miniseries are fictional, although The Right Stuff is somewhat based on history. Space and Chess were for men, not women. Today, we indeed have female astronauts. Not sure about female chess grandmasters, but I'll bet there were and are many. Even though The Queen's Gambit is totally fiction, it has many life lessons. Chess is a game of intellect. Brain power. In chess, nobody cheats. There is an honor code. And even though it was a "Man's Game" and women did not play - even the Chess Grandmasters of Russia gave female American Beth Harmon her due. 

I think the entire world is due for a new type of Finishing School. One that prepares ALL people for living in the new world of global communication, global collaboration, and better cultural norms. Today's world is digital, not analog. We are ALL connected, we ALL share one planet in real-time. This blog (could) reach millions, in the blink of an eye. Tools like Zoom have made the world one big connected community. In the time that it took to read this blog, a million people could have started watching The Right Stuff, or The Queen's Gambit or just about anything that they wish. YouTube, TED Talks, the list of options is growing exponentially. How many audio/video podcasts are there now? You won't live long enough to listen to or watch 1% of them. And don't get me started on Audible books. I'm addicted to books in the clouds. 

I think we are due for a Finishing School for ALL Humans. We are all now living in a global society. All are welcome, from every time zone. Yes, this is long overdue - with a heavy emphasis on the word "all" and maybe replacing the the word Finishing with Lifelong

The Lifelong School of Human Development. 

All are welcome to THRIVE in the new global society. Tuition is free, as long as you agree to pay it forward. Yeah, we should do that. After all, we humans are smarter today than we were in the 1960's right? We are smarter now, right? Please tell me we are (all) smarter now in 2020 than in the 1960's. 

Cool picture below, eh? The Right Stuff, only better. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Hot for Teacher

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Hot for Teacher is a song by the American rock band Van Halen, taken from their sixth studio album, 1984. Born in 1960, this song is deep in my brain. 

Today is Sunday, the day after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made their historic victory speeches. So, it is going to be hard to write a blog that is not on the topic of the 2020 election. 

But, I do run the Distance Learning Association. And all things teaching, training, coaching, education and "Teachers" is a big part of my entire professional existence. 

Back in the day, Tipper Gore, wife of then Sen. Al Gore, was shocked by the Van Halen "Hot for Teacher" video. "The images frightened my children," she said. "They frightened me!" By May 1985, Gore would form the Parents Music Resource Center, which lobbied the recording industry to create a ratings system apprising buyers of explicit content. I wonder what Tipper Gore would have to say about President Trump's twitter account of the past many years. 

Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden is an American Educator who was the second lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. 

Dr. Jill Biden's Wikipedia page has been updated in the last 24 hours.  It now says that Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden is the First Lady of the United States designate. Most importantly, it says that she was born in Hammonton, New Jersey. Priorities, right? 

In January 2007, at the age of 55, Jill Biden received a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in educational leadership from the University of Delaware. Her dissertation, Student Retention at the Community College: Meeting Students Needs has been downloaded over a million times - in the past 72 hours. 

On the second night of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, Jill Biden spoke from the classroom at Brandywine High School where she had once taught English. She drew parallels between family suffering and the plight of the country saying, "How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding and with small acts of kindness, with bravery, with unwavering faith."

In my humble opinion, EVERYTHING we have as a nation, is due to our veterans and due to our teachers. All the things we take for granted, all the things that we enjoy from the worlds of science and technology, were born from the minds and the dedicated voices of our teachers. From K-12 to College and University, our lives are formed and molded by our teachers. Our teachers spend more time with our children than parents, in many cases. The only thing better is when a returning veteran becomes a teacher. That is when they go from serving our country - to serving our country, without missing a beat. 

In July 2020 Dr. Jill Biden spoke out about the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on education, appearing in a video with her husband to emphasize that she understood the frustrations that children, parents, and teachers were having with virtual education substitutes but saying that "Schools and parents alike want a clear, science-based strategy, not mixed messages and ultimatums." 

I know that my wife Dianne will see this blog. Heck, she will be the first one to proofread it for me. So, with a clear conscience, I can honestly say in the most innocent and wholesome way:

I am once again, Hot for Teacher. 

Dr. Jill Biden, America's Teacher.

Van Halen 1984 <<< Hot for Teacher Video 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Heckler in the Room

I try to pay attention. When someone says that I should "check something out" I usually do. But when senior leadership of many vendors and sponsors of NYDLA say "check this out" I make it a point to listen AND act. I'm having a flashback to the old E.F. Hutton commercials: When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen. 

Hutton was a Wall Street heavyweight 40 years ago and still best known for its advertising slogan. I guess that was before insider trading was a bad thing. 

And so, throughout the recent Zoomtopia Users Conference (Virtual this year) I heard the name "Heckler" and then Dean Heckler and finally the folks at Logitech telling everyone to check out Heckler Design. OK! OK! I'm going!  

I found Dean Heckler on LinkedIn. I pinged him, short and sweet, first touch on October 25th. Five days after the first "hello" we recorded a video podcast. Two Zoom meetings later, we shall be offering the products and services of Heckler Design to the NYDLA / NADLA global community.


Here is my E.F. Hutton moment on this Sunday (for everyone). Zoomtopia was VIRTUAL this year, because of COVID. So many events that our community would have normally attended LIVE (COLLISION, Web Summit, NRF, etc.) were (and will now be) VIRTUAL. COLLISION had 32,000+ attend from home. At Web Summit next month, we expect 100,000+ to attend from home. Normally we would have 50,000+ attend NRF at Javits Center in NYC (live) and this year, it is virtual. I'll be attending, and also presenting - from my home - 25 miles west of Times Square. 

Last year, I presented at the Intrado Digital Media Summit, in NYC. This year, it shall be a virtual event with people sharing valuable insights, winning strategies, and new ideas in digital media. And food will be via Uber Eats, delivered to my home. 

The technology of today has changed the world forever. COVID just made 10 years worth of change happen in 10 months. And we are just getting started. 

If you Google "Heckler" you find a person who harasses and tries to disconcert others with questions, challenges, or gibes. Hecklers are often known to shout disparaging comments at a performance or event, or to interrupt speeches, with the intent of disturbing performers and/or participants. 

If you search for the antonyms of Heckler, you find Dean Heckler and Heckler Design. 

See you in the clouds. members receive special pricing
on all things Heckler Design

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Getting Schooled in BOONTON (USA)

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I went to Main Street Boonton (USA) yesterday to buy vacuum bags. 
We have one of those in-house vacuum, central vacuum systems that sucks dirt through hidden 2-inch pipes down to a 12-gallon canister in the basement. So, instead of maneuvering a heavy, noisy portable vacuum up and down stairs and from room to room, we have a 30 foot hose that plugs into special wall outlets, which automatically starts the two vacuum motors. 

So anyway, I went to Main Street Boonton (USA) to buy vacuum bags. And that's where I met Ed.

Ed owns and runs Boonton Vacuum. FOR YEARS. 

Here are some of the things I did not know before yesterday:

The idea of using in-wall plumbing to clean houses goes back to the 1850's in Sweden, where horse-powered fans created suction. Eventually, horses were replaced by servants who either pumped giant bellows or, in later years, pedaled stationary bicycles. Even when the electric motors arrived at the turn of the century, these systems were only within reach of the very wealthy magnates like Henry Ford and George Eastman. Then portable vacuum cleaners hit the market in the 1920's, and their whole-house cousins were left in the dust. 

But wait, there's more. 

Central vacuums weren't forgotten entirely. Frank Lloyd Wright, impressed by their clutter-free convenience, specified them in a number of his later designs. The systems became more affordable in the late 1950s when plastic pipe began to replace copper, but they did not really come into their own until 1990s, when growing house sizes and concerns about indoor air quality coincided with improved filtration, more powerful motors and more effective vacuum attachments. 

Ed is in his 70's easy. Maybe 80's. I noticed his accent, and asked him where he was from. Ed is from Zagreb, Croatia. "Oh, one of my best employees lives in Zagreb, Croatia. He has been with me for many years, working remotely" I said in passing. 

Once again, my words activated the launch sequence with Ed. 

Turns out that Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It lies on the intersection of important routes between the Adriatic coast and Central Europe. In 1929, King Aleksandar proclaimed a dictatorship and imposed a new constitution which, among other things, renamed the country the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The territory of Croatia was largely divided into the territories of the Sava and Littoral Banates. 

It also turns out that Croatia is home of the world's biggest truffle. Croatia has the highest number of UNESCO Intangible Goods of any European country. Zlatni Rat Beach changes in shape and color depending on the wind. And of course, Croatia has the richest collection of remains of Neanderthal people in the world. 

And, as I turn to leave (twenty to thirty minutes later) I learned that Croatia is a lovely place to visit, with charming old cities and towns, gorgeous beaches and coves, distinctive foods, and incredible cultural riches. 

Oh, one more thing. An interesting fact about Zlatni Rat Beach. One mistake people make when imagining the beach, is that it is a sandy beach. Well, it is not a sandy beach. Zlatni Rat Beach is a pebble beach. The pebbles are small, fine, round stones which are nice to walk on. 

I left Ed and walked down the stairs to the Boonton Farmers Market, following social distance protocols of course. I bought some honey from a local farm. But there was no conversation. I did not learn anything about the honey, or how honey is farmed, or about the people selling the honey. It was just a 30 second transaction. I did not learn anything about honey or people or anything. 

I also got two Taylor Ham Egg and Cheese sandwiches. Two for $10 is a bargain. There is a reason why people stand in line (or call their orders in) as these sandwiches are to die for. But once again, no conversation. Just a 15 second transaction. Pay, wait for the sandwich. They did bring it out to my car (social distancing and all) which was nice. 

I could not stop thinking about my customer service experience with Ed. I expected to be in his shop for 3 minutes tops, just to buy some vacuum bags. I think I was there for no less than half an hour. It could have been much longer. 

When I returned home, I told my wife all about my adventure on Main Street Boonton (USA). 

"Did you know that there is only ONE 'BOONTON' in the entire USA? And that people used to get USPS mail addressed to just BOONTON USA" I said to my wife. You could mail a letter to Tom Capone, Boonton, USA and that would be just fine, that was enough. Kinda like sending mail to The White House and it will get there, because there is only ONE White House. Ed told me all about it. 

Because I bought six vacuum bags, two packs of three. I don't know when the next time I will need to see Ed. We vacuum every Saturday, so it could be a year before we need to get vacuum bags again. 

My wife said that she might stop into his shop next week, because she has a sewing machine that needs fixing. 

"I'll take it in for you" was my response. No problem. 

Without hesitation, I'll do it. I don't want to miss out on a chance to attend office hours with Professor Ed. 

Yeah. The Boonton (USA) School of Business. 


Sunday, October 18, 2020

How do you take your Topia?

[If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape mode / hold phone sideways]

This past week was Zoomtopia 2020. Normally we would have been just now returning from California, back to The Big Apple. But this year due to COVID, the October 14-15 2020 event was virtual and it was free. I highly recommend that you check out the archives and session recordings. 

Anyone who knows me, is very aware that I am big fan of Zoom. I have been selling telecom and technology since the early 80's (damn, I'm old). I am so old in fact that the FIRST thing I think of when someone says the word Zoom is the PBS kids show out of Boston

Because I have been selling, marketing, installing, servicing audio - web - video conferencing since the old Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) days, I was an early adopter of Zoom. I was using Zoom long before Zoom became a verb. 

In today's blog, I am not going to spend a lot of time talking about Zoom vs. the competition. There are plenty of people doing the post-trade show wrap up this weekend, post Zoomtopia. 

I want to focus on the Topia. 

Greek topos, place. The key term here is utopia, an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect. Paradise.  

I recently hosted a video podcast with Chris Herd, the Founder & CEO of Firstbase. We chatted about how: 

The 2020s will be known as the Remote Work Decade. 

Third Space: Office and Working from Home will be joined by somewhere close by that a number of people will use. Supermarkets or local bank branches should emerge as a convenient ubiquitous location option – if they are smart.

Asynchronous Work: Offices are instantaneous gratification distraction factories where synchronous work makes it impossible to get stuff done. Tools that enable asynchronous work are the most important thing globally remote teams need. A lot of startups will try to tackle this.

Hobbie Renaissance: Remote working will lead to a rise in people participating in hobbies and activities which link them to people in their local community. This will lead to deeper, more meaningful relationships which overcome societal issues of loneliness and isolation.

Rural Living: World-class people will move to smaller cities, have a lower cost of living & higher quality of life. These regions must innovate quickly to attract that wealth. Better schools, faster internet connections are a must.

Constant Presence: Asynchronous work lets you have the isolation to do deep work but it's not always required. Communication solutions which enable presence, like an open mic while gaming, will become more compelling.

Bad Tech: Remote will grow so popular so quickly that it will attract people who have no interest in it other than greed – like blockchain/crypto in 2017. Their lack of understanding of remote work will lead to them replicating the bad parts of office working remotely.

Remote Rejection: Certain demographics and generations will reject the transition. Their benefit – that everyone in the office is like them and it's easier for them to progress – will be their reason. Companies that don't transition will be left behind. 

Diversity & Inclusion: The most diverse and inclusive teams in history will emerge rapidly. Companies who embrace it have a first-mover advantage to attract great talent globally. Companies who don't will lose their best people to their biggest competitors. 

Output focus: time will be replaced as the main KPI for judging performance by productivity and output. Great workers will be the ones who deliver what they promise consistently. Advancement decisions will be decided by capability rather than who you drink beer with after work. 

Single Car Households: The rise of remote will have tremendous indirect benefits towards slashing pollution. Families will benefit from only needing one car slashing cost of living, potentially cutting commuting a lot. 

Private Equity: the hottest trend of the next decade for private equity will see them purchase companies, make them remote-first. The cost saving in real-estate at scale will be eye-watering. The productivity gains will be the final nail in the coffin for the office.

The death of Coworking: The last recession was the beginning of the end for bespoke vanity office. The next recession will spell the same thing for co-working spaces. The rise of remote will mean a majority of the 255M+ desk jobs globally are remote by 2029. 

Talent Wars: Remote work is the perk that is most sought after by workers globally. This will only increase. Remote-first companies will disrupt every incumbent who doesn't/isn't able to make that transition. 

Written Communication: the most important skill for workers to cultivate. Reading and understanding also key. Cultural issues arising from misunderstanding meaning behind the way people write becomes a big issue.

Working Too Much: Companies worry that the workers won't work enough when operating remotely. The opposite will be true and become a big problem. Remote workers burning out because they work too much will have to be addressed. 

Distraction Avoidance: The home office will skyrocket in popularity. A space at home to get away a necessity. There will be an explosion of people purchasing standalone units for their backyards for this.

Global Citizens: Individuals with no national attachment become ubiquitous. Challenges of paying people cross border due to compliance and legal issues slowly fade away as the world becomes more borderless. 

Retreat Destinations: Global hubs will pop-up that cater to remote teams getaways. Resort-like escapes with a deep focus on team building, collaboration, planning, and efficiency. Hotels with facilitators and coaches who assist teams for the duration. 

Life-Work Balance: The rise of remote will lead to people re-prioritizing what is important to them. Organizing your work around your life will be the first noticeable switch. People realizing they are more than there job will lead to deeper purpose in other areas.

Fractional Ownership: remote work will make advancement less important/more difficult. Rather than reward being a better title, fractional ownership could enable workers to be more easily rewarded with ownership of their companies/make the market for equity more liquid. 

Bullshit Tasks: The need to pad out your 8 hour day will evaporate, replaced by clear tasks and responsibilities. Workers will do what needs to be done rather than wasting their trying to look busy with the rest of the office. 

Decentralized Opportunity: Remote work will do more for inequality than anything in history. Workers everywhere will find the best, highest paying job. The fear that this will depreciate wages will be unfounded as companies will need more talent than exists. 

Accessible Jobs: Remote work will make work more accessible than it has ever been. Nothing will stop workers getting the job they deserve because there will be no obstacles in their way. 

Remote Tools: Companies operating remotely now will have created tools every remote team on the planet needs. @Zapier,  @Gitlab,  @GitHub, will spawn Mafias who take these internal tools and create startups around them. Expect several $Billion Startups to emerge this way. 

Multiple Jobs: The gig/freelancer economy will evolve. Remote work allows workers to have multiple employers. The difference in terms of reliability and consistency will be huge, eradicating doubt, lead to better conditions for workers. 

Remote Jobs: There won't be enough remote jobs for at least the next 5 years. World-class people will drive the change. They will demand more remote opportunities and realize the influence they have to make their companies give it to them. 

Remote Infrastructure: The focus on the sexy won't change any time soon. There is a missing half of remote work that's neglected because it's difficult, boring, and unsexy. It will be the most critical. Until that's solved remote teams won't scale globally easily.

No Code: Will grows to dominate creation. @webflow@figmadesign amongst others will democratize access unlike ever before. Remote workers who have an area of expertise and one of these broad skills will be unicorns at first, before everyone else realizes the need.

Social Contact: Loneliness, disconnection neither improved or worsened by remote work. A number of people's main social contact comes at work, with people decided by their bosses hiring policy. Remote work must lead to deeper more meaningful relationships with friends and family. 

Health & Wellbeing: A lack of commute will give workers 25 extra days a year to do other things. Workers will exploit the freedom they have to organize things more freely in their day. Afternoon runs, morning meditation, two things a lot of people I know now do. 

Child Connection: Hearing your child's first laugh, seeing their first steps won't just be in the memory of one parent. Being there, feeling like your children know you. Dropping them at school each day. Small things that remote gives to you. 

Visa Issues: The problem with workers having to leave a job due to the expiry of their visas will no longer exist. Companies won't accept losing their best people simply because their right to be in a specific country expires. Remote will be an easy option. 

International Talent: Great for developing countries. International companies will access to talent globally. Access to opportunity will be decentralized. 

Job Title Death: What your job title is will become more irrelevant as remote work becomes more prominent. What you do, what you're capable of, the tools you can wield will enable you to do jobs that break you free from the shackles of a title. 

Universal Tools: Global workforce that understands and the same SaaS services means technical debt for training shall be $0. Companies add another seat to SaaS platform and worker uses the same tool they would use if they were in an office or with a different company. 

Older Workforce: Boomers may be standing in the way of the remote work revolution happening quickly, believe least in its benefits, lack the trust for it to emerge. Ironically, remote work will allow them to work far more easily later in life. 

Remote Living: Work from anywhere RVs will become huge business. Associated business parks and services will spring up. This will happen even more rapidly as self driving tech emerges. Expect a @Tesla type of product in this space.

Personal RPA: robotic process automation will transform work for individuals. No-code tools that enable workers to built bots that automate menial parts of their roles will be huge. 

Micro Co-working: a home on every street is transformed into a hyper-local co-working space. It comes with all the amenities needed, like high-quality coffee, and has on-demand fitness equipment like @onepeloton bikes. 

Today, I run the NYDLA, which (like Bell Atlantic) has now morphed into the NADLA, servicing all of North America. We went from servicing the 55M+ people living in the "New York Megalopolis" to servicing the 579M+ living across all of North America. I highly recommend viewing the session recordings from Zoomtopia 2020. For me, two days of Zoomtopia is like a trip to Disney World, virtually or otherwise. 

The future of work, the future of entertainment, the future of education, the future of medicine, the future of commerce - is all in the clouds. And now due to COVID, the future has indeed arrived early. 

Will the future be a Paradise? 

That is up to us. 

That is always up to all of us, since the future is what we make it. Together. 

From My Home To Yours 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Propelify Dunks!!!!

[If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape mode / hold phone sideways]

Ever since COVID-19 changed our world, I have been paying close attention to how everything changed in the travel, hospitality and especially the events business. I live just 25 miles west of Times Square, The Big Apple. You know: The Center of the Known Universe. Living in the region, I really feel that I was able to see the most massive changes in behavior unfold in the most dramatic ways. 

Facebook has that feature that reminds you of exactly where you were and what you were doing 365 days ago. So many times we would have events in NYC, that would feel like "mini" vacations. I mean, who turns down an excuse to visit NEW YORK CITY?

COVID-19 caused me to start saying the following: Telemedicine has now become just Medicine. Distance Education has become just Education. eCommerce has become just Commerce. Remote Work has become just Work.

And Virtual Events have become just Events. 

Last week was the Propelify Innovation Festival, powered by TechUnited:NJ. Normally, this event is held outdoors on the waterfront in Hoboken, New Jersey. This year due to COVID, the event was virtual.

Memories of Propelify 2019

Normally, speakers, sponsors, and attendees from some of the most well-known groups in the world - and many of the innovation community's rising stars - would gather (thousands strong) with the New York City skyline as their backdrop. This year, virtually, the overall theme was building a better future for all. Each day centered around a different theme: Better Together, Better Wellness, Better Planet, Better Connected and Better Beta.

Over 5,000 attendees registered for Propelify 2020, for over 1,797,487 minutes of virtual content. 

Here is a quote from an attendee: 

"Phenomenal! Very rarely do I attend an event where I am upset that I have to be pulled away to attend a meeting or a call. I genuinely wish I could have watched every second - every speaker you've invited has been so very engaging!"

One more quote:

"This is one of the best events I have attended this year. I did not say virtual events, I said EVENTS. Period." 

That second quote is mine. And I am in the events business. Since 1983. 

If you missed out on attending the Propelify Innovation Festival live this year, paid members of TechUnited:NJ can view the archives. Just visit their website. 

This week, we have Zoomtopia, which is a FREE EVENT open to EVERYONE using Zoom - worldwide. What is that like 300M+ people? In December, we have Web Summit, with 100,000+ expected to attend their virtual event - from home. 

Zoom is a multi-billion dollar, global brand. Propelify, not so much. But one possible good thing that COVID-19 has brought to the world is this: it has forced our hands. The pandemic has indeed forced (all of us) to rethink the way that we live, learn, work and play. The technology powered changes we are all now experiencing will be with us forever. I do hope that Propelify will be back on the Hoboken waterfront this time next year. But I also hope that the virtual option will be available. I think that virtual events are indeed just events, now and in the future. 

At Propelify, we learned that every company (regardless of size) is a technology company. 

Here is another thing that members of learned this past week. They say, "Bigger is Better." Well, I think that as virtual events go, bigger is not better. BETTER is better. 

This past week, Propelify dunked on the bigger competition. Virtually. 

Aaron Price, CEO, TechUnited:NJ
In the Virtual Dunk Tank