Sunday, March 28, 2021

Very nice to meta you

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways.

Kids use a new word now, "meta" that is actually a very old word. Meta is a word which, like so many words, we have ancient Greeks to thank for. When they used it, meta meant "beyond," "after," or "behind."

In its simplest form (today) a book in which a character is writing a book or a movie in which the character is making a movie can be described as meta. I am not totally sure, but I think Cosmo Kramer's Coffee Table Book about Coffee Tables was also meta. 

Having meetings to discuss how to have better meetings seems to be pretty meta to me. Having virtual meetings to discuss how to have better LIVE meetings - virtually - is meta meta, right?

Yesterday was a good day. My wife and I drove up to Madison, Connecticut to see our kids new home. I have two sons, both married, both are well on their way to their own adventures. We are very blessed that we are only a few hours away - or shall I say - only a few chapters of Audible away. Gotta love those books on Audible. Especially when read by the author.  But I digress. 

Around an hour after we landed at the new Connecticut version of Camp Capone, I had to jump on a Zoom meeting via my smartphone. Pre-COVID our "go to" location for LIVE meetings in NYC was the GATEWAY. Founded in 2018 by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce, it was the first and foremost Swedish chamber based outside of Sweden. The last "cool" live event we held before the COVID lockdown was at GATEWAY. 

Yesterday, the Deputy CIO of Zoom, and folks from BARCO and other NYDLA vendors and sponsors met both LIVE and VIRTUALLY on the 29th floor, right above the bustling streets of Midtown Manhattan. Today, every professional faces a new challenge, returning to work under COVID-19 measures. No handshakes, fewer in-person meetings and uncertainty of the future. But we are all determined to build back better. 

A few weeks ago, I flew for the first time in years. I took plenty of pictures of our NADLA WEST expansion tour. Yesterday my mind jumped to self-driving cars - and what is taking so long! I know that it is coming soon, but can you imagine sitting in a driverless electric car, making the zero traffic 93 mile trip from NJ to CT and working in the back seat the entire time? Or listening to Audible, or participating in an Zoom meeting - while heading to the LIVE/VIRTUAL hybrid meeting?

I don't know if yesterday was a perfect day, but it is in my top ten of the past 12 months. The only negative was traffic - and self-driving and/or AI assisted cars would eliminate traffic forever. 

When we drove to the beach (normally 12 minutes away) we had a three car caravan - and we were all on Bluetooth Speakerphone talking to each other in real-time during the ride. My son took us the "long way" to see the local sights. It turned into a guided tour - virtually - but very real. 

We are still building back better, and it will take time. But I truly feel that we are indeed going to be BETTER. Yes, Zoom became a verb because of the COVID WARS, but that future was coming anyway. Self-driving cars, AI, Internet of Things, eCommerce, all things "cloud" were already changing the world. COVID just made 10 years of stuff happen in 10 months. 

I am 100% certain in just a few years I'll be getting invited to a Zoom Chat, where ONE of my sons (or one of my new daughters) will say: "Hey Dad, can you and Mom baby-sit this afternoon?"  

And I will say "Sure, let me book a self-driving Uber, we'll be there in one hundred and four minutes, exactly."

Cosmo Kramer

Sunday, March 21, 2021


If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways.

Flying again!

This past week was my first time flying in years. Most of the time, I would not have to fly for business - as I had "The Big Apple" in my back pocket. "Yeah, we could come to see you - hey - why don't you come here to NYC, and then we can see a show while you are in town." Almost never did someone say no to a trip to the New York Megalopolis. 

Now as we build back better, the Meetings and Events, and the Hospitality Industry are trying to come back. COVID has devastated businesses in many verticals, but the LIVE Meetings and Events world was brought to its knees. Our friends at Northstar Travel ( did a great job helping the industry, and we give them a tip of the hat. 

Now, there are lessons to be learned, for sure. We are now building back better. But as my grandfather used to say, "Don't try to build the snowman with one roll." 

This past week, NYDLA (now NADLA) opened up the West Coast market. We are now servicing all of North America. Not just the 55M+ people living, learning, working, playing in the New York Megalopolis, but the 579M+ people who are also trying to build back better after COVID.

Flying: American Airlines was great. Clean, on-time, no stress. I felt safer at the airport (and while on the plane) then while buying ink for my printer at a local Walmart. 

OK, here's the bad. The one-roll snowman analogy. 

We did a "FAM" visit with three properties in CA. I'm not going to name the brands, suffice it to say two of the three have a big "H" in their names. All three properties were clean, beautiful, and ready to "build back better" from the nuclear winter of COVID.

BYOB to me, used to mean "Bring Your Own Booze" or bottle. Well, now it means "Bring Your Own Bagel" unless you wanna pay $32 for a bagel with lox, and a glass of OJ (not fresh squeezed). And $6 for a cup of coffee and $6 for a glass of orange juice. Want more coffee? Refills are not free. How about a side of bacon: $6. A side of potatoes, $8. A slice of tomato, $3. With tip, breakfast comes in at $79.62. I remind you that round-trip NYC < > California on American Airlines was less than $500, taxes and fees included.

OK, I get it. A bagel with Shmear and Lox in NYC can cost you anywhere from $7 to $24. But when you normally eat at Einstein Bros. Bagels you know what stuff costs. And it's not $32 plus tip. And it was carry out, back to the room. So, what's with the mandatory tip? OK, moving on...

Don't even get me started on the pitcher of "Cuke Refresher" mocktail for $55. I asked, "what is in this?" LaCroix Pure Sparkling Water, cucumber slices, mint leaves, lime (squeezed for juice). No booze? That pitcher of cuke water will be fiddy-five dollaaz please, gratuity not included. Also this, tell people what things cost, up-front. First. No one likes surprise charges on a bill, ever. 

OK, land the plane Tom...........

Hey Hospitality Industry: We are ALL trying to rebound from COVID. We are all trying to build back better - all of us, not just hospitality. We are all trying to reopen the economy. But people are not stupid. At least most people are not stupid. Don't try to recover the past year of financial loss on your "breakfast menu" or by selling poolside mocktails at huge markups. Don't charge $6 for a 6oz cup of coffee, and then charge $6 for refills of said cup. Don't try to make the snowman on one roll. 

And then.........

There was one venue that was amazing, no price gouging on the food, and an in-room fridge filled with FREE wine. And a cloth robe and beach shoes, to take home. Winner winner, chicken dinner......

I loaded the pics from our NADLA West Coast expansion tour here. It felt GREAT to fly again. It felt AMAZING to begin the process of building back better. But there are lessons to be learned on HOW to build back better. First, do no harm. 

Major take-home lesson: Don't charge someone from the "New York Megalopolis" way, way, WAY too much for a bagel and shmear. That's gonna trigger a blog every time....

Sunday, March 7, 2021

I'm no Art Fern

If you are old like me, you remember the Johnny Carson character Art Fern. 

Art Fern, the fast-talking host of a "Tea Time Movie" program, who advertised inane products, assisted by the attractive Matinee Lady was a parody of what NOT to do in sales. 

Art would always tell us "how to get to" the place of the thing he was selling. And always, we should drive until we come to the fork in the road. Like. Every. Time. 

And it was funny. Every. Time. 

At the time of this blog, I am told (checks notes) that there are more than One Billion people on the planet using Zoom Basic (free) service. And over the course of a month, there are hundreds of millions of people meeting daily on Zoom. During the COVID-19 pandemic, few companies seemed more poised to receive a usage bump than Zoom and its enterprise-grade video chat platform. Turns out that Zoom outpaced expectations. 

In the past 12 months, Zoom became a verb, and the world is indeed Powered By Zoom

There are many Zoom competitors, and then there are some companies to make the Zoom experience, better. I am no Art Fern, but one such company making the Zoom experience better is Zapkad

Zapkad is a FREE digital business card with unlimited storage and CRM built-in. It makes the Zoom experience better. When we met in person (like we did pre-COVID) we exchanged paper business cards. When we had live events (pre-COVID) at big venues, you might have had someone "scan" your badge. No one wants to lug around all that paper at a trade show, right? And why kill trees?

Today, when we host events and meetings on Zoom, we never shake hands - we never exchange cards. It's virtual. Zapkad saw the opportunity in the marketplace - and became a first-mover.

Yes, sadly, I am old enough to remember Johnny Carson's Art Fern. 

I am also old enough to remember the launch of iTunes and the launch of the Apple stores, and how getting "an app" approved in the online marketplace was the long play for Apple. The iPhone and iPad got its power from the genius of the apps. Zoom is taking a page out of the Apple playbook. Zoom is great, the apps that make Zoom better - that is the ride home for everyone. 

Zoom (and now Zoom Phone and Zoom Chat) has changed the world, full stop. And the marketplace and companies like Zapkad will continue to create force multipliers of value. 

If you are reading this blog, there is a 99% chance that you already have a Zoom account (free, or paid). You should also get Zapkad. It's free, just like Zoom Basic. I did, I use it in all of my Zoom meetings, and it is a game-changer for me. When we go back to LIVE meetings, or hybrid meetings, I'll keep using Zapkad. 

Paper business cards are so pre-COVID.

Again, I am no Art Fern, but I do channel him from time to time. And don't forget, when you come to the Slauson Cutoff.....

Art Fern says