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.