Sunday, January 31, 2021

I secondment that!

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There is an amusing anecdote that baseball great Yogi Berra was once asked whether he wished to have dinner at a high-regarded restaurant, and he replied with a remark combining wisdom with contraction: 

Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded. 

I have a friend who has a daughter that works at Apple in China. Born in Newark, New Jersey, educated at Princeton, he told me that their child was just finishing up a two year secondment. I was not familiar with this term, so I did not know whether to congratulate them, or give them my condolences. 

Thanks to Google, it turns out that a secondment is the assignment of a member of one organization to another organization, for a temporary period. The employee typically retains their salary and other employment rights from their primary organization but they work closely with the other organization to provide training and sharing of experience. 

A deeper dive says that secondments are often offered to employees by other departments within the same business - or by another company within the same group. An internal secondment can be an informal arrangement between departments - even if the wage changes, the individual is paid in the same way, so there is little paperwork to be done. Turns out that a secondment can be a fantastic way of exploring new career possibilities, gaining experience while being employed, learning new skills, boosting and becoming a more valued team member. 

I just did a video podcast with the folks at Rutgers Business School - Supply Chain Management. It turns out that Rutgers is ranked No. 6 in all of North America in Logistics Programs. I had my $10 word ready to impress all in the podcast via my question:

So, with global demand for Supply Chain Managers going up, are Rutgers students applying for secondments to places like China, Japan, Germany, Singapore? 

Without missing a beat, the answer was: No, not any more. Today it's all done via Zoom. 

It made me pause and shift the direction of the video interview. How many people in the past 10, 20 years "moved" to China, or Asia, or Europe - not because they wanted to move - but they HAD to move. They simply had to be physically there to do their jobs. Apple's iPhone production in China required this relocation. Today, not so much. And same for education. If you wanted a Master of Science in Supply Chain Management from Rutgers, you would be living in New Jersey for a period of time. Now you can live anywhere, in any time zone.

With COVID-19 restricting travel this past year, many entities have dabbled with virtual secondments, the same way that live events have become virtual events. Law firms were one of the first to jump onto the virtual secondments bandwagon. Just as remote work has really become just "work" and how telemedicine has just become "medicine", I think that secondments will just simply become normal global collaboration - plane tickets and moving vans not required.  

One time when stalled in crosstown traffic, Yogi Berra glanced at a restaurant awning on 50th Street and recalled something he once said about a nightclub. "That place is so crowded nobody goes there anymore." His wife said, "No, you said 'It's so popular nobody goes there.'"

"Right, popular," he agreed, and tossed out another one: "Thanks for making this day necessary." 

I'm not Yogi, but if you made it this far - thanks for making this blog necessary. 

A recent Cybersecurity Master Class with
The world is indeed

Sunday, January 24, 2021

It's Hammer Time

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In baseball, a home run is scored when the ball is hit in such a way that the batter is able to circle the bases and reach home safely in one play without any errors being committed by the defensive team in the process. 

In the early days of the game, when the ball was less lively and the ballparks generally had large outfields, most home runs were of the inside-the-park variety. Hence, the home "run" was literally descriptive. FAST RUNNERS hit home runs. Speed was more important than strength. 

Home runs are among the most popular aspects of baseball, and as a result, prolific home run hitters are usually the most popular among fans and consequently the highest paid by teams - hence the old saying "Home run hitters drive Cadillacs, and single hitters drive Fords". 

We recently lost one of the best Cadillac drivers of all time, Hank Aaron. 

I was fourteen years old when Henry Louis Aaron nicknamed "Hammer" or "Hammerin' Hank" hit 715. Aaron is regarded as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. His 755 career home runs broke the long standing MLB record set by Babe Ruth and stood as the most for 33 years.

Aaron (then age 39) ended the 1973 season one home run short of the record. He hit home run 713 on September 29, 1973, and with one day remaining in the season, many said his only fear was that he would not live to see the 1974 season. Aaron was the recipient of death threats and large assortments of hate mail during the 1973-1974 offseason. Many newspapers quietly had an obituary written, afraid that Aaron might be murdered before he could hit 715. 

Growing up, Baseball was my sport. And I hit a few home runs during my "baseball" career. And that included three Grand Slams. I was not good enough to make the High School team in Boca Raton, Florida in the 70's but I came close. It was a big school, and the competition for first string "catcher" (my position) was fierce. I did however, resume hitting home runs in my late 20's playing Men's Adult League Softball. There is no feeling in sports like hitting a home run. 

When I was young, I read a book about Hank Aaron and it had his home address in the book. You could mail a self-addressed, pre-stamped envelope to his home - and he would return an autograph. Stop and pause for a second. You could send mail to the home of Hank Aaron, and get a reply, with an authentic autograph. Ah yes, the world was a much simpler place when I was a kid.  

Many years after his retirement, I met Hank in person. He was a spokesperson for cellular phones, and we were pursuing Hank to do a TV commercial. I called the phone number expecting to get a receptionist. "This is Hank" was the voice on the phone. He answered the phone himself - on the second ring, and we spoke for almost an hour. He was an amazing businessman, and he was concerned about how his brand would be represented.

I did not think about Hank for many years, and with his passing this past week, my flood of memories hit me. I still have his autograph from when I was playing Little League. I still have the copy of the signed agreement for the TV spot for Cellular One. When I did finally meet Hank in person, he was many years into retirement from the game. 

After Barry Bonds hit his record-breaking 756th home run on August 7, 2007 Aaron made a surprise appearance on the JumboTron video screen at AT&T Park in San Francisco to congratulate Bonds on the accomplishment: 

"I would like to offer my congratulations to Barry Bonds on becoming baseball's career home run leader. It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity, and determination. Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historical achievement. My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974 is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams."

When I met Hank in person, I jokingly said "I've hit a few home runs in my day." Hank smiled, paused and said to me: "More than one? A few? Then you know how it feels to be a home run hitter. Now go hit 'em in life." I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. Now go hit 'em in life. 

Chasing dreams. Hitting Home Runs. Living a life of integrity, honesty. Paying it forward. 

I pause here and reflect how of the two men, Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron, only one of the two has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Aaron was reluctant to attend any celebration of a new home run records, based upon his personal conviction that baseball is not about breaking records, but simply playing to the best of one's potential.

Life lessons all around. Play Ball! 

Aaron accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom 
from US President George W. Bush in 2002

The mail in 1973 - 1974. Much of it hate mail 
including death threats.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

A picture is worth a thousand words

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A picture is worth a thousand words
is an English language adage that complex and sometimes multiple ideas can be conveyed by a single still image, which conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a mere verbal description. 

The saying was invented by an advertising executive, Fred R. Barnard. To promote his agency's ads he took out an ad in Printer's Ink in 1921 with the headline "One Look is Worth a Thousand Words" and attributed its to an ancient Japanese philosopher. 

What can pictures tell us that words cannot? 

Visuals are always more effective than the written word. Humans are visual creatures. Always have been. A picture is more colorful than a group of words, literally and figuratively. Tugged heartstrings evoke more emotions. Photographs are able to capture emotions that words cannot, no matter how cleverly they're used. 

Pictures are not only more effortless to recognize and process than words, but they are also easier to recall. And, just as we recall pictures better than concrete words, we also remember concrete words better than abstract ones. If we really want others to remember something, we should use words AND pictures together. Like here, in today's blog. 

"A picture is worth a thousand words" is an adage. So is "The camera never lies". Ah, but is that still true? Can we still trust our eyes with todays photoshop technology? I think I'll save the topic of Photo Manipulation for a future blog. 

An axiom is a statement accepted as true. An axiom is accepted as true, as the basis for an argument. When you have an adage that is ALSO an axiom, well then you really got something! 

OK, let's assume you are still reading my Sunday blog, and that you did not bail on me. 

Recently Freed Slaves - USA

Some common adages are: Birds of a feather flock together. Opposites attract. Don't judge a book by its cover. The clothes makes the man. The early bird gets the worm. Better late than never. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Better safe than sorry. 

The Pulitzer Prize - for Photography was established in 1942. Joseph Pulitzer suggested four journalism awards. By 1942 there were eight Pulitzers for journalism, and now we have two for photojournalism

Photography was complex and expensive not so many years ago. Today, every smartphone has a camera that is thousands of times more powerful than the most complex cameras in the days of Joseph Pulitzer. To win a Pulitzer Prize for Photojournalism, you would normally have to be in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time - to catch the image that was indeed worth a thousand words.

Today, all of us - any one of us - could win a Pulitzer for Photojournalism, right? Today, we all have the ability to capture history, and to tell a visual story. We all have smartphones, where the images can be uploaded and shared with the world - in seconds. Ah but today, images can also be manipulated. The same technology that makes ALL OF US Pulitzer Prize Winners - can also harm and divide us to a degree that we never could have predicted. The technology of today can also make us amazing liars. And those lies can be told in shocking speed and volume. Just ask Donald Trump. 

On January 6th 2021, the Capital of the United States was attacked. Ah yes, the adage "Birds of a feather flock together" might indeed also become an axiom. We shall see. 

Do nice guys finish last? Was all of this a blessing in disguise? Well, let's not beat around the bush. To make a long story short, your guess is as good as mine. But it is very hard for me to give any of these people the benefit of the doubt. America: hang in there, but we DO need to get our act together! 

Ah, all of those words in the last paragraph would be Idioms, and I'll be saving idioms for another blog. Because for now, I'm going to call it a day. So cut me some slack, I'm not cutting corners. OK? 

I'm just still trying to wrap my head around these (potentially) Pulitzer Prize winning photos. 

Maybe a picture is worth a thousand lies?

Sunday, January 3, 2021

What do you think again?

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I love getting galley copies of books from authors. I have never received an advanced copy of a book and not loved it. It is because my brain is pre-wired to love it. Why? Because someone thinks that my opinion matters, and that my review will be valuable. 

When I was in my 20's (many years ago) I got called out when I said "Oh, I know them, they are one of my very good friends" and then it was uncovered that I was never in the same room with that person. Ever

Tom! I thought you said that you were good friends?!?  

Ah, we are very good "phone friends" was my reply. 

Phone Friends. That was actually a thing back in the day. 

Before there was Zoom and email and texting, there was - telephone. And talking on the phone was the center of all relationships. Friends, clients, customers, it was all about getting them on the phone. I remember when having someone's "direct line" was a big deal. And you better never get caught giving out that private number. That was taboo. You never wanted to hear "how did you get this number?" Oh man, that is a hole that you don't usually dig out of. 

OK, so Adam Grant is one of my very good friends. I wonder if he knows that? He is on our website. We exchange emails. He likes my tweets. Enough to retweet me, on occasion. But we never met in real life. So this made me pause: can you be friends with someone if you never meet in real life? Can you be Zoom friends? 

Is "Zoom Friends" the new phone friends?  

I met Simon in real life. And I met Seth in real life. And Malcolm and Dan. And without clicking on their names, you probably know who they are - well maybe not Dan but he is very cool indeed. But I never met Adam - in real life. I guess you really have made it when you only need a first name to be recognized. Hey wait - Adam IS the first name - as in the first name ever! 

Daniel, Brene, Bill and Melinda have given great praise to Adam's new book. So did M. Night Shyamalan. But I am not sure that they are all good friends in real life - or they all might just be the 2021 version of phone friends.

I shall do a video podcast with Adam. Our fireside Zoom chats have become "a thing" and we now call them Coffee In the Clouds. And now we have done CITC with actors, authors, athletes, comedians, musicians. I might never meet these people in real life. I hope that we shall indeed meet many of our CITC guests, but we may not. And with COVID, I am not totally sure what travel will look like for the near future. 

Adam does not need anyone's help to make his books become best sellers - but I don't think he will turn down any help - especially during a pandemic. His four previous books have sold millions of copies and have been translated into 35 languages. His TED talks have been viewed more than 20 million times. His speaking and consulting clients include Google, the NBA, and the Gates Foundation. (Ah ha! He probably DID meet Bill and Melinda - in real life). 

From his new book: Intelligence is usually seen as the ability to think and learn, but in a rapidly changing world, there's another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom

I'll be gifting Adam's new book to the members of NYDLA. Adam did not know this before this blog post - I guess that is the power of "knowing what you don't know" in action. 

Yeah, that's what good friends do for each other - even if they never met. and receive 
Adam's new book for free.