Sunday, May 30, 2021

I (did not) get screwed at Best Buy

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

The Hisense - 50" Class - LED - H6500F Series - 2160p - Smart - 4K UHD TV with HDR Model 50H6570F with SKU: 637035 that I bought on 5/20/2020 died around a week ago. 3 days after the 1 year warranty expired. Finding a $299 TV with curbside pickup during the teeth of COVID-19, I was happy to get ANYTHING.

So, three days ago I ordered an "Open Box" Hisense - 50" Class A6G Series LED 4K UHD Smart Android TV Model: 50A6G with SKU: 6455164.  Condition: CERTIFIED. $334.99 with FREE 2-day delivery. Cool!  [ I wanted the exact same size, heck, I wanted the exact same TV for the custom spot we made above the fireplace.]

And, like clockwork, the TV showed up at my front door yesterday afternoon right after lunch. I really paused to marvel at how the world changed pre and post-COVID. 

I was also thrilled to read the little HDTV CERTIFICATION CHECKLIST, from Geek Squad Agent Badge ID# 181024. The little card went on and on, "bragging" about how this "open box" (aka, returned) device has been fully tested, inspected, and approved.

Again, COOL!

There were no screws in the box. The four little screws that you need to attach the TV to the stand. Four little tiny pieces of machined metal, that probably cost $0.0001 to produce. I cannot place the TV on top of the mantle, without these four little screws. 

Best Buy did not screw me. And I found myself desperately wanting to be screwed. 

And so began my journey with Best Buy Support, both online and via phone. "Hello. I just got delivery of Order #BBY01-848459444821, my open box Hisense TV.  There were no screws in the box, so I cannot attach the TV to the stand. I had to say this / type this several times. 

The final solution was to GO TO a Best Buy store to get properly screwed. 

But I said, "Well, before I DRIVE to the store, I would like to call them first, to make sure that they indeed HAVE the four little screws that were missing. But due to COVID, the local stores are not accepting phone calls. And the call center operators cannot contact the stores. It was going to be a gamble. 

And so, I looked in the mirror. "Well, punk. Do you feel lucky?" saying this to myself in my best Clint Eastwood voice in my mind. I knew that if I drove all the way to Best Buy and they did not have the screws, I was going to be - ah - obtuse

And so, I took the "legs" with me to the store, to say I need the four little screws that go WITH this stand. As soon as I entered the store, the Best Buy greeter met me at the door. "I need to see the manager," I said, with a slightly sinister smile. 

So, here's the deal. I am in business, and I know that stuff happens. The HDTV Geek Squad CERTIFIED OPEN-BOX tested and approved checklist, performed by Agent #181024 did not have "screws" on the checklist. Turns out that most Hisense TVs have "snap on" legs, so that the model that I bought (needs screws) was the anomaly. I can see how Agent #181024 missed it. Not happy about it, but I do understand.

While I was waiting for the manager to return from the back room, I was planning my "Do you know who I am????" speech. I just did a video podcast with the former CEO and Chairman of Best Buy. I am doing a video podcast with the current CEO of Best Buy. We are rolling out a 900+ location project of "Building Back Better" centers, in partnership with Best Buy. I said to myself, "Tom, please don't become one of those DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM assholes." 

The manager came back and placed four little screws in my hand. The then also placed a Best Buy gift card in my other hand - thanking me for my time, apologizing once again for my trouble and appreciating my understanding. He said he would also make this CASE known to all at the Geek Squad, so that this never happens again. 

This week our nationwide team will be gathering at the Four Points by Sheraton Mall of America hotel. 1.5 miles away is our engineering and architectural "kick off" meeting at Best Buy Corporate Campus, 7601 Penn Avenue South. This 900+ nationwide installation will be the largest project of my career, and the TECHNOLOGY is only a tiny part of the project. 

The REAL work begins after the power is turned on in 900+ virtual classrooms across North America. Check out weConnect when you get a minute. It should give you goosebumps to see the future of work, and the future of education, as we all build back better. 

Yeah, this week I did not get screwed by Best Buy. If I did get screwed properly by Best Buy the first time, who knows what today's blog would have been about, right? 

Yeah, I think both sides nailed it this week.  

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Building Back Better Bundles

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

There is a little Dance / Ballet studio in our town that failed, sadly, due to COVID. I said to myself, "Self, that 1,700 SF space would be a GREAT place for a bunch of our ZoomPODS!" 

BOONTON USA is around 30 miles west of Times Square. An amazing little town, Boonton is the original home of BOONTONWARE. Main Street Boonton must have a dozen Pizzerias. We have a train station, and a bus that goes to the city on the hour, every hour. Boonton USA is in the heart of Morris County, New Jersey, one of the most "vibrant" counties in the entire country, not just the state. I said vibrant as "wealthy" sounds a little stuffy. 

The former Dance / Ballet studio would be a sublease, with a MANDATORY four year, $3,800 monthly rent. Ouch. Plus, it would cost some good money to build out the space, fix it up - and you need insurance, and advertising, and... I think we are at an easy $5k per month, maybe more. FOR FOUR YEARS, no matter what. 

My brain immediately shifted into opportunity cost mode. What ELSE can I do with $5k per month - every month?

I could give fifteen people over $300 per month for a WFH office expense allowance. You can make an AMAZING home office with an extra $300 per month. 

I could have people work from home, and we could all "meet up" at the Convene in Times Square once a month for a Lunch 'n Learn or Sunset Seminar or some such fun event - with good food and grog.

I could have everyone work from their home office (from ANY time zone) and spend the monthly $5k on Facebook ads, driving traffic to multiple and various eCommerce stores. 

Zoom + Zoom Phone + Loom + Logitech + Lenovo + Workplace + BigCommerce + Box + Salesforce + Basecamp + Hey + (name something...) = Work From Anywhere Nirvana. 

Exchange the brand Zoom for Star2Star. Exchange the brand Shopify for BigCommerce. The exact "Brand" or technology does not matter that much these days. After all, now that Zoom is a verb, you can Zoom on Webex, right? Having vs. Not Having technology - HAVING VS. NOT HAVING the opportunity, well yeah, that matters. A lot. 

I love going into THE BIG APPLE for meetings and events. I LOVE having clients, customers, vendors, sponsors meet up with us in "THE CITY" and you know what city I am talking about, right? If we were in Boston right now, and I said I had to go to "the city" tomorrow, where am I going? If we were in Philly right now, and I said I had to take the train to "the city" tomorrow, where am I going?

THE CITY. THE BIG APPLE. The greatest city in the world. Prove me wrong. I see people reading the New York Times in LA, but I never see anyone reading the LA Times in New York. It's New York Baby! 

But here is what I also know to be true. Landlords from BOONTON or THE BIG APPLE (or anywhere in the USA) will need to address the fact that most people have a calculator in their smartphones. Most people (especially Entrepreneurs) know how to calculate opportunity cost, and most can make Google Doc spreadsheets to create "what if" scenarios. 

My self also asked myself: "Hey self, I wonder if the failed Dance / Ballet studio is still paying THEIR mandatory rent? Or is it just the new people (suckers?) that are locked in for four years, COVID or no COVID? 

I very much want New York City to bounce back, bigger and better than ever. I do want people coming and going, into "the city" for work, for events, for meetings, for shows. But landlords (everywhere) need to fully embrace the post-COVID reality that REMOTE is the future of work and that REMOTE is going to be standard by which (all) work shall be judged. 

Working from an amazing home office, with LIVE in-person MEETINGS and/or EVENTS every month, or LIVE events every 90 days at someplace AMAZING will soon be the norm. 

Work from home (from a proper home office) and come to New York City, or Orlando, or San Diego... or London, or Paris, or Toronto a few times a year. All events in the future shall be hybrid events. And don't even get me started about how 5G is going to change work forever. Super High-Speed Internet -  from everywhere - changes everything. Full Stop. 

And so, it does not look like I'll be installing any ZoomPODS in the old Dance / Ballet studio in good ol' BOONTON USA. 

Unless of course, the current landlord reads my Sunday blog and says to me "Hey Tom, loved your blog. I'll give ya month to month." For now, I'll be finding "the best alternative choice" for $5k per month. For four years. 

Working from Home - BOONTON USA

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Pay Attention!

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

When you pay attention to someone, you watch them, listen to them, or take notice of them. 

She says, "I'm sorry. I wasn't paying attention. Were you trying to say something?" is what no guy on a date wants to hear, ever.

I paid the pizza delivery guy. You could not pay me to do that. I paid a teenager to mow the lawn. He paid the penalty. It pays you to stay open, it pays you to re-open. You can pay one's way or pay the piper or pay through the nose. 

This Tuesday I will be doing my first LIVE (paid) presentation in New York City, in over a year, due to COVID. 

Attention Marketing is a term coined by internet entrepreneur Steve Jelley to describe a particular business model that has evolved around the growth of social media. It was popularized by the book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. 

For the first time in over a year, I shall be paying good money out-of-pocket to go into the city for an event. I paid to have a suit dry cleaned. It shall cost me money to take the bus, it shall cost me money to eat in the city (it's never cheap) and it shall cost me money to get back home. If the day goes long into the night, it shall cost me money to stay over. Normally I would charge for my travel and expenses (I would normally get paid for all of this) but not this time. Besides, I really want to get back into the city! I'm getting paid for my TIME and for my KNOWLEDGE, but not for my travel and expenses. That's fine - this time

[ Insert smiley face ].

This Tuesday in New York City - THE BIG APPLE - people are paying to hear me speak, live. Will there be food? Hell yes! But no one is coming for the food alone. They too will be spending time and money, to get to the venue. 

Permission Marketing is a concept introduced by the book of the same name in 1999 by marketing expert (Seth Godin, again). Permission marketing is a non-traditional marketing technique that advertises goods and services when advance consent is given. Interruption Marketing is essentially a competition to win people's attention. Seth Godin believes that marketing strategies should be based on the following three elements: Anticipated, Personal, Relevant. 

  • Anticipated: people will anticipate the service/product information from the company.
  • Personal: the marketing information explicitly relates to the customer.
  • Relevant: the marketing information is something that the consumer is interested in.
In the past year, I lost count how many Zoom Meetings (be it a "Zoom" meeting on Zoom, or on WebEx, Cvent, Intrado, GoToWebinar, etc.) I attended, or presented or co-presented. I think I recorded around a hundred video podcasts in the past year, give or take. All from my home office, never from the city. THE COST of this activity was very close to $0 but the cost of TIME (mine or yours) is never free. 

And so: we are all in the Attention Business.  

I cannot teach you anything, if I have not earned your attention. I cannot sell you anything, if I have not earned your attention. Engagement, Adoption and Utilization can never happen, without first getting someone to - pay attention. 

And: if they have PAID good money to then "pay attention" to you and/or to your presentation, then the permission marketing of the equation is already built-in. 

[ You can stop reading now, if you wish. The rest is just ego stroking..... I said what I wanted to say in this Sunday's blog post. It's fine, you can take off. ]

Seriously, you can stop reading now, it's cool. No need to scroll down any further. 

Below is how I was being "marketed " to get people to pay good money to attend this Tuesday's event. 

Thomas Capone, Chair and CEO of (and now

Thomas Capone has been servicing 300+ of the Fortune 1000 Since 1983 in all areas of voice, data, wireless and wireline services. Thomas took over running the Distance Learning Association during the last recession, growing it from insolvency to 5.6M+ members. Today, as a result of the pandemic, NYDLA has now become NADLA servicing the 579M+ people of North America. 

Specialties: Audio, Web, Videoconferencing, Voice, Cloud, Data, VoIP, TEM, Managed Services, BPO, SaaS, Wireless, eCommerce, SEO, Hosting, Security, Consulting, Social Media, Mobility.

Key Specialties: SaaS, IoT, mobility, cloud solutions, solution selling, commercial and enterprise sales, channel development, strategic partnerships, global market experience, collaboration solutions, commercial and large volume sales programs, product planning, target marketing and segmentation, market development; project operations, launch strategies, lead generation, client satisfaction and performance based leadership.

Thomas says: Distance Education has become just EDUCATION. Remote Work has become just WORK. eCommerce has become just COMMERCE. Telemedicine has become just MEDICINE. Distance Learning became DIGITAL Learning, and now - it is all just DIGITAL LIVING. 

We are all building back better, as we live, learn, work and play in the global cloud economy. 


If you did get this far in my Sunday Blog... I must have earned your attention, right? 

Or, you had nothing better to do on a Sunday. Ya know, my older blog posts are also pretty good, so I am told. You should be able to just scroll down. 

See? Once you have EARNED THEIR ATTENTION, the rest is easy. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Here it is again, without wax.

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

I wrote this blog ten years ago. I was new to "blogging" at the time. I am not sure it ever had more than 10 views. I just "searched" my blog archive to see how many times I used the word "mother" and this was the oldest blog that popped up. Ten years ago - 1/6th of my lifetime - I think it deserves a refresh, don't you? Some minor edits - a little 2021 sprinkled in here and there, to make it "pop". Speaking of Pop, my father was a wise, wise man with a very good "picker". 

My mother passed away when I was 23 years old. Among other things, I (still) remember "Mom" as the most honest and authentic person that I will most likely ever meet in my life. My wife’s mother Patricia was cut from the same cloth; very honest and authentic. And now, I am quite confident that my two sons will one day say the same about their mother, my wife Dianne.

Integrity, a standard of personal morality and ethics, is not relative to the situation you happen to find yourself in and doesn’t sell out to expediency. Integrity is short in supply and getting even shorter. But without it, leadership is a joke. Learning to see through exteriors is a critical development in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Sadly, most people continue to be taken in by big talk and media popularity, flashy or bizarre looks, and expensive possessions. They move through most of their years convinced that the externals are what count, and are thus doomed to live shallow lives. Men and women who rely on their looks or status to feel good about themselves inevitably do everything they can to enhance the impression they make – and do correspondingly little to develop their inner value and personal growth.

The paradox is that the people who try hardest to impress are often the least impressive. Puffing to appear powerful is an attempt to hide insecurity.

In the Roman Empires’ final corrupt years, status was conveyed by the number of carved statues of the gods displayed in people’s courtyards. As in every business, the Roman statue industry had good and bad sculptors and merchants. As the empire became ever more greedy and narcissistic, the bad got away with as much as they could. Sculptors became adept at using wax to hide cracks and chips in marble and most people couldn’t discern the difference in quality.

Statues began to melt under the scrutiny of sunlight or heat in foyers. For statues of authentic fine quality, carved by reputable artists, people had to go to the artisan marketplace in the Roman Quad and look for booths with signs declaring sine cera, which translates in English to mean, without wax

We, too, look for the real thing in friends, products, and services. In people, we value sincerity, from the words, sine cera, more than almost any other virtue. We expect it from our leaders, which we are not getting in our political, media, business and sports’ heroes for the most part. We must demand it of ourselves. Be Sincere. Without Wax. 

Integrity that strengthens an inner value system is the real human bottom line. Commitment to a life of integrity in every situation demonstrates that your word is more valuable than a surety bond. It means you don’t base your decisions on being politically correct. You do what’s right, not fashionable. You know that truth is absolute, not a device for manipulating others. And you win in the long run, when the stakes are highest. If I were writing a single commandment for leadership it would be, “You shall conduct yourself in such a manner as to set an example worthy of imitation by your children and subordinates.” In simpler terms, if they shouldn’t be doing it, neither should you. 

When they were young, I told my kids, “clean up your room,” and they inspected the condition of my home office. I told them that honesty was our family’s greatest virtue, and they commented on the radar detector I had installed in my car. When I told them about the vices of drinking and wild parties, they watched all of us from the upstairs balcony. They observed the way our guests behaved at our adult functions. Our children are always watching. Always

It’s too bad some of our political and business leaders don’t understand that “What you are speaks so loudly that no one really pays attention to what you say.” But it is even truer that if what you are matches what you say, your life will speak forcefully indeed.

It’s hardly a secret that learning ethical standards begins at home. A child’s first inklings of a sense of right and wrong come from almost imperceptible signals received long before he or she reaches the age of rational thought about morality. Maybe you’re asking yourself what kind of model you are for future generations, remembering that people are either honest or dishonest, that integrity is all or nothing, and that children can’t be fooled in such basic matters. 

Yes indeed, we learn from our parents. 

Especially from our mothers. Have a Happy Mother’s Day everyone.

Liz Cheney, Mom. 
(Grace, Richard, Elizabeth, Kate and Philip)

Sunday, May 2, 2021

I need some Crypto-Bismol

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

A few years ago, I got paid $50,000 for something, via Bitcoin. At that time, I really did not know ANYTHING about crypto, other than there was a lot of buzz. My son had to help me to set up Coinbase. And, after I received the money, I did not leave any of it in Bitcoin, because I was afraid of losing money. 

For me, there is a great freedom to saying out loud: "I don't know what I am talking about" when the topic is something that I don't know anything about. 

Turns out that Coinbase Global, Inc., known as Coinbase, is an American company that operates a cryptocurrency exchange platform that operates remote-first, without an official physical headquarters. Founded in 2012, now has a stock price COIN on NASDAQ of around $297.64. Give or take. 

When I told someone that I once got paid $50,000 in Bitcoin and that I did not keep it, they said: "OMG! You must be sick to your stomach!"  

I did not know what I was talking about at the time, regarding anything Crypto. So I got out.

Pepto-Bismol provides effective relief of multiple stomach symptoms. Available in liquid, chewable tablets, and swallowable caplets, Pepto-Bismol treats diarrhea and provides fast relief of upset stomach, nausea, heartburn, and indigestion. 

Today, we think of how Pepto-Bismol soothes the digestive system after we've overindulged at a meal. Or, we think of it as a travel companion that can soothe stomach upsets associated with traveler's diarrhea. 

But in the early days, it saved lives.

The formula of the pink medicine we now call Pepto-Bismol was originally developed at the start of the 20th century, where high standards of hygiene and sanitation were not as widespread as today. Looking to cure cholera that caused severe diarrhea, vomiting and death, a doctor concocted a formula in his home that proved effective. The original formula was made from pepsin, zinc salts, salol and oil of wintergreen. It was called Mixture Cholera Infantum. 

The invention of what we now know as Pepto-Bismol coincided with other health advances, such as milk pasteurization and public campaigns advocating hand washing. 

The early (massive) success of Pepto-Bismol presented a production crisis for its inventor, who could simply not make the stuff fast enough. The Norwich Pharmacal Company in Norwich, New York, figured out how to make it in 20-gallon tubs. 

Over the years, studies found that bismuth subsalicylate is the ingredient that makes Pepto-Bismol work. The name Pepto-Bismol stuck in 1919. 

Land the plane, Tom......... Land the plane..........

Right now, you know more about Pepto-Bismol than most of the people you know. Via Google, you could know 99% more than 99% of the people you know on just about anything. And you can do this - from your home. Right now, if you wish to do so, you can learn A LOT about all things crypto, from some really smart people. From. Your Home. 

This past week, I took steps to launch a new cryptocurrency for my company. And I will (soon) know more about all things cryptocurrency, the Ethereum ecosystem, and probably a lot about Liquid, Gemini, Binance, Bitstamp, Kraken, BitMEX and of course, IDEX than 99% of the people that I know.

From home. I'll learn all of this stuff - from home. 

Yeah, I sold off my Bitcoin because I did not know what I was talking about. I have no regrets, because at the time, it felt like gambling. And at the time, I could not afford to let my $50,000 go down to $40,000 or worse. 

But I also don't like to miss out on things. Did I mention that last week, I took the necessary steps to launch a new cryptocurrency for my business?