Sunday, July 25, 2021

I'm feeling a little tipsy

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

A gratuity (also known as a tip) is a sum of money customarily given by a client or customer to certain service sector workers for the service they have performed. Tipping servers in bars, restaurants, taxi drivers (including ridesharing), hair stylists and so on, but this is depends on country or location.

How did tips (and the amounts) become a social custom or etiquette? 

And, it is illegal to offer tips to some groups of workers, such as U.S. government workers, police officers, etc. as the tips might be considered bribery. 

And, sometimes a fixed percentage service charge can be added to bills in restaurants and similar establishments. Beware of hidden fees! Did you ever leave a tip - when there was ALREADY a service fee built in? I have. 

Studies of the practice in America suggests that tipping is often discriminatory or arbitrary: workers receive different levels of gratuity based on factors such as age, sex, race, hair color, and the size of the gratuity is found to be only very weakly related to the quality of service. 


During a recent stay at a HYATT, I was charged a GREAT rate for a room - cool!  And then City Occupancy tax, HB Assessment, CA Assessment, a Resort Fee, and then (again) City Occupancy Tax and HB Assessment on the Resort Fee. Extra fees of $61.46 per day or $122.92 in total for two days. 

When I questioned the extra charges, I was told it was all on their website. When I asked what the "Resort Fees" were, I was told - they were not just a hotel, but a resort. But the "resort" was on lock down at the time, due to COVID-19. But the resort fees are automatic, even though you cannot use the resort. Sorry. 

Exhibit B: Angelina's in Florham Park, New Jersey.

We went out to dinner for the first time with friends, in like......forever. I had the Clams Oreganata and the Zuppa di Pesce. All of us had a great meal. It was a BYOB place, and we DID. We were really good on the BYOB assignment. 

When our waitress (Gabby) first came to the table, I whispered to her, "I get the check" to head off the classic fight for the check. Alas, there was a fight anyway, and we wound up splitting the bill, $59.24 each couple. Fine

I would guess that Gabby was in her 20's. Gabby was a very good server, a little ray of sunshine. 

Gabby got a $50 tip from our table, against a $120 bill. 


A tip is not a tip if it is forced upon you. From a theoretical economic point of view, gratuities may solve the principle-agent problem (the situation in which an agent such a server, is working for a principle, such as a restaurant owner or manager) and many managers believe that tips provide incentive for greater work effort. 

Why do we tip waiters, taxi cab drivers and bar tenders, but not webmasters, landscapers and others in the service industry? Also this: if you are going to have hidden fees, you better hide them really good. Because once a hidden fee is no longer hidden, those little hidden fees will become the only thing people will talk about. Heck, they might even BLOG on it. 

Gabby for the win. 

Oh, and HYATT, meet my new friend HILTON. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

A 2nd Bite of the Apple

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

We're back baby!!!!  Jerry Seinfeld was RIGHT!

Last week was our first "sleepover" event in New York since COVID first hit in 2020. I live around 30 miles west of Times Square, so I am (was) very spoiled for years. $11.35 bus ride and less than 60 minutes later, I can be teleported from BOONTON USA to 11 TIME SQUARE. 

Man, did I miss our Lunch 'n Learns and Sunset Seminars in The Big Apple. Our Sapphire Sponsor Microsoft is so generous with their space at 11 Times Square. Events on THE INTREPID. Happy Hours at Beer Authority. Bryant Park. Oh, and the CONVENE! The CONVENE on 42nd Street is AMAZING. 

NYC IS BACK!  Yeah, but not every day. 

When I first started working in the "Distance Learning" world, there were people still using dial-up modems. Audio conferencing was still north of $0.15 per minute, so a meeting with ten people was going to cost "someone" $1.50 per minute. Unless, of course, you were going to use things like or Skype for free, but then you looked like you were broke. And no one wants to do business with a business that looks like they are broke or have no money for tools, right? (Hello, I'm looking at you - Zoom Basic users....)

Yeah, The Big Apple is back baby!  But, The Big Apple might have been bruised. 

The economics of New York City (or any city) is based on volume. Commuters. Foot traffic. Every day. I just asked "OK, Google: how many people commute to and from NYC every day?" and she came back with 1.6M+ people flowing in and out of NYC every day, via bus, train, subway, and car. 

I was all alone on the bus to NYC. A bus that normally has "standing room only" during rush hour. I was able to get a room at the Hilton in Times Square for well less than $200 on Thursday night, with a free breakfast. I did notice that Uber, Lyft and Via were MORE expensive, due to a lack of VOLUME. Ah so - their business model is based on VOLUME. 

Here is what I know to be true. I will now be going to NYC (at a minimum) twice a month for stay-over events. I will go to NYC a few more times a month for "day trips" for meetings and events. I will go to Orlando, San Diego and probably Mexico at least once a year. And, I will go to London and Toronto at least once a year for major events.

The rest of the time, I will be working from BOONTON USA. I will be teaching, training, coaching, mentoring from BOONTON USA. I will be living, learning, working, playing from BOONTON USA in the heart of Morris County, New Jersey. Also this: Google Morris County NJ - it's amazing for business.  

This past Thursday was a blast. An afternoon in Bryant Park, after a great meeting in Salesforce Tower. A fantastic dinner at Capital Grille (thanks Star2Star!) and an amazing rooftop bar experience at The Knickerbocker (thanks Jabra!). But, I don't have to go to NYC tomorrow (Monday) or any day this upcoming week. Unless something happens, and then I'll catch the bus to NYC, but I will still sleep in my own bed that night. 

Distance Learning has become DIGITAL Learning, and now post-COVID it is all just DIGITAL LIVING. 

I love going to New York City. Just not every day. New York (or any major city) became "big" because that is where the business phone system was, that is where "the files" were, the fax machine, the computers, the (damn I'm old) typewriters were. How many of the things that you HAD to go "to the city" to access are now in your smartphone? And here comes 5G which will make business grade high speed Wi-Fi available to most of the country. 

LAST WEEK OF THIS MONTH, I shall fly to San Diego for our first major LIVE event of 2021. It shall cost me an easy $2,000 in airfare and hotel. Probably closer to $3,000 for the week, all in, when I add up all food and Uber and such. Now my brain compares $3,000 for four days, vs. 10+ two-day events in "the city that never sleeps" for less than $3,000. Yeah, I'm still going to fly to San Diego to hang out with a few hundred people LIVE (in the heat of the summer no less) but I am still crunching the numbers. I see the opportunity cost analysis of staying with NYC (ten times) vs. flying to San Diego (one time) clearly, do you? 

I think the biggest thing that COVID-19 did (to all of us) is it forced us to calculate opportunity costs. Going to the city to work vs. working from home. Travel vs. Not Traveling. Going to school "on campus" vs. attending a class in the clouds. "Zoom" vs. Hotel Room. Humans like to have choices. 

It was GREAT to meet people in real life. LIVE is better than VIDEO, 100% true, no debate. The brain chemistry is different when you are in the same room. It is visceral, you can feel human connection, or lack thereof. Note to self: always have breath mints - for you - and for them! 

And the steak that I had at Capital Grille was amazing. But you cannot eat Filet Mignon every day, right? All things in moderation. This is why I only blog on Sundays, and not every day. The people that I met (shook hands, and even a few hugs) will make our NEXT meeting on video that much better. Meeting LIVE and then meeting on video is always very different than only meeting on video and never meeting live. 

Yeah, absence (scarcity) makes the heart grow fonder. 

Scarcity: good for Zoom and Blogs and Filet Mignon. Bad for any business or for any city that needs (requires) high volume of foot traffic (or paying customers) daily

This Thursday's Commute to NYC

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Happy Truth Dependence Day 2021

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

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation's most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson's most enduring monument. Here, in exalted and unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people. The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers. What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in "self-evident truths" and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.

Dependence: the quality or state of being dependent; especially: the quality or state of being influenced or determined by or subject to another.

Examples of DEPENDENCE

  • The company was hurt by its dependence on government loans.
  • Our dependence upon foreign oil makes our economy vulnerable.
  • The country has a dependence on foreign trade.

I find it interesting, that our great country, our entire way of life was built on the concept of
Independence. But everything that we talk about, everything that we fight for, and everything that we pay for is the opposite of living a life of independence.

The same country that was born out of independence is now very dependent indeed. And technology has always been at the heart of it all.

We fought for our independence in 1776. And we used the technology of the day (ships, muskets, cannon, maps) to fight and win that war. How long ago was that exactly?

From and including: Thursday, July 4, 1776
To, but not including Sunday, July 4, 2021

Result: 89,485 days. Or:

  • 7,731,504,000 seconds
  • 128,858,400 minutes
  • 2,147,640 hours
  • 12,783 weeks and 4 days.

It took me just a few seconds to figure out exactly how many days (or even hours) ago the Declaration of Independence was signed. But, I could not do the above cut and paste magic without - wait for it - my good friend Google and his father (the military brat who was born in the USA) The Internet.

As a self-employed businessman, I am very dependent on technology, and I am not alone. Business, Higher Education, Medicine, the world of Finance, and certainly the Military is very deeply DEPENDENT on many things, but none so much as our deep and growing mutual
dependence on technology. Ships, trains, automobiles, computers, telephone. The mastery of the sea, air and space. All of this since our declaring our INDEPENDENCE.

From Google:
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over the territory. The opposite of independence is a dependent territory. Independence does not necessarily mean freedom.

Catch that?  
Independence does not necessarily mean freedom. Freedom is not free, and neither is the Internet, or solar power, or electric cars, or any of the things that we connect to living in the country known as the home of the free and the land of the brave.

July 4th, 1776 was the date that we DECLARED our Day of Independence. Funny how we never declared our date of DEPENDENCE.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident....."
Monarchy asserts that all men are NOT created equal, that the King or Emperor possesses rights significantly greater than those persons subject to the ruler. A monarch has the ability to create, suspend or obviate existing laws by their own volition. Life could be taken by a King. Liberty could be suspended or destroyed by an emperor, and the pursuit of happiness did not factor into many lives subject to tyrannical rulers.

Today, Freedom requires the Mastery of Technology. No Question.

But also this: Freedom cannot exist without the rule of law.
Freedom cannot co-exist with lies.

Above all: Freedom DEPENDS on the Truth.
And the enemies of FREEDOM know this all too well.
No "Alternative Facts" allowed, thank you very much.

Our founding fathers were fueled on ideals that were once seemingly revolutionary: freedom and democracy. America was born from the idea of providing opportunity and equality for all. The Mastery of Technology made the USA possible. Lies stop us from reaching our full potential in business and life - and as a country.

America: The Great Experiment. Today: the misuse of technology (to spread lies and falsehoods) can destroy our country. And that's the truth.

Truth, Justice and the American Way