Sunday, December 10, 2023

Read the room

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

How fast can a human read?

The speed at which a person can read varies widely and depends on factors such as reading proficiency, comprehension goals, and the complexity of the material. On average, an adult reading silently can process around 200 to 300 words per minute (wpm). However, highly skilled readers, such as speed readers, can read much faster, often exceeding 1000 wpm or more. It's important to note that increasing reading speed may come at the expense of comprehension, so individuals often need to find a balance that suits their specific reading goals. Additionally, factors like text difficulty, font size, and familiarity with the content can also influence reading speed.

Ok, how fast can a human listen?

The speed at which a person can hear and process spoken language is generally referred to as the "speech perception rate." On average, the typical rate of speech for English speakers is around 150 to 160 words per minute (wpm). However, people can understand and process speech at different rates, and individual preferences or comprehension abilities may vary. It's worth noting that while speech perception rate is one aspect, the overall understanding of spoken language involves not just the speed but also factors like clarity, accent, vocabulary, and the listener's familiarity with the language or topic being discussed. Additionally, some individuals may have specific skills or training that allow them to process spoken information more quickly.

In contrast to reading, where individuals can control the pace, the speed of speech is typically set by the speaker, and listeners need to adapt to that pace.

Where are you going with this, Tom?

I have a friend who has a company that makes PowerPoints. If you don't know, Microsoft PowerPoint is a presentation program developed by Microsoft as part of the Microsoft Office suite. It is a widely used software for creating and delivering presentations. PowerPoint allows users to create slideshows that can include text, images, charts, graphs, audio, video, and other multimedia elements. PowerPoint is widely used in business, education, and other settings where presentations are a common way to convey information. It has become a standard tool for creating and delivering slideshows in a professional and visually appealing manner.

Here is the thing: when a really big company needs a PowerPoint, they hire my friend's company. And they pay, let's just say, big bucks. Because: they need that PowerPoint to be - perfect. We joke, maybe his company should be called PerfectPoint

It made pause and think: what is it (exactly) that makes someone outsource the creation a PowerPoint - and pay significantly for it? And what makes a PowerPoint presentation - perfect? If a big company was making a presentation (to investors, to customers, to vendors, whatever) and they feel that this presentation needs to "go perfectly" they invest in the presentation. They leave no stone unturned, they leave nothing to chance - "we need this meeting to be perfect!" [ can you not "feel" someone saying that out loud in a conference room to their team? ]

OK, land the plane Tom....

Let's do learning

Do you NEED to learn something? Or, do you want to learn something? Or, are you just 'moderately interested' in something? What comes to your mind first - do you Google it, do you buy a book on it, do you find it on YouTube, do you take a course on it on Udemy, do you hire a teacher, trainer, coach? Do you seek a mentor on it? Do you pay tuition, maybe thousands of dollars to learn it - whatever "it" is? 

And here comes...... AI.

Hey ChatGTP 3.5 - how can I make a perfect PowerPoint?

Creating a "perfect" PowerPoint presentation involves a combination of design principles, content organization, and effective delivery. Here are some tips to help you create an impactful PowerPoint presentation:

1. **Understand Your Audience:**

   - Consider the needs and expectations of your audience.

   - Tailor your content to be relevant and engaging for them.

2. **Define Your Purpose:**

   - Clearly define the purpose of your presentation.

   - Know the key message or takeaway you want your audience to remember.

3. **Plan and Outline:**

   - Create a clear and logical structure for your presentation.

   - Develop an outline that includes an introduction, main points, and a conclusion.

4. **Limit Text:**

   - Avoid cluttered slides with too much text.

   - Use concise bullet points and focus on key messages.

   - Use visuals to complement your points.

5. **Engaging Visuals:**

   - Use high-quality images, charts, and graphs to enhance understanding.

   - Ensure visuals are relevant and directly support your content.

6. **Consistent Design:**

   - Use a consistent design theme throughout your presentation.

   - Choose a readable font, and stick to a color scheme that is professional and easy on the eyes.

7. **Simple Transitions and Animations:**

   - Use slide transitions and animations sparingly.

   - Avoid distracting effects that may take away from the content.

8. **Practice Moderation with Bullet Points:**

   - Limit the number of bullet points on each slide.

   - Focus on key messages to keep your audience engaged.

9. **Speak Clearly and Concisely:**

   - Practice your verbal delivery to ensure clarity and confidence.

   - Avoid reading directly from the slides; use them as visual aids.

10. **Include White Space:**

    - Allow for white space on your slides to prevent visual clutter.

    - White space helps maintain a clean and professional look.

11. **Check for Consistency:**

    - Ensure consistency in formatting, font sizes, and image styles.

    - Double-check for typos and grammatical errors.

12. **Use Templates Wisely:**

    - Templates can be helpful, but be cautious not to overuse flashy templates that distract from your content.

    - Customize templates to suit your presentation's needs.

13. **Interactive Elements (if applicable):**

    - Include interactive elements like quizzes, polls, or discussions if they align with your presentation goals.

14. **Know Your Tech:**

    - Familiarize yourself with the presentation venue's technology in advance.

    - Test your presentation on the actual equipment you'll be using.

15. **Seek Feedback:**

    - Before your presentation, seek feedback from colleagues or friends.

    - Adjust your presentation based on their suggestions.

Remember that the "perfect" PowerPoint presentation can vary based on the context and audience. It's essential to be adaptable and responsive to the specific needs of your presentation and the people you are presenting to.

OK, thanks! Ah, hey ChatGTP 3.5 - go make me a perfect PowerPoint!

ChatGPT says: I'm sorry for any confusion, but I can't create files, including PowerPoint presentations, for you. However, I can help guide you on how to create a great PowerPoint presentation. If you have a specific topic or content you'd like assistance with, feel free to provide details, and I can offer guidance on structuring your presentation, designing slides, or any other related aspect.

Ahem. "OK, Google, how do I use AI to make perfect PowerPoint presentations? 

Good Morning, Thomas. There are many solutions to use AI to create perfect PowerPoints. Here are the top ten results: Presentation.AI.  Beautiful.AI.  Kroma.AI. Designs.AI. DeckRobot. Vennage. Pitch.  Slidebean. Slidesgo.  Wepik.   


My friend's company that makes the Perfect PowerPoints already knows all of the above. And, the big companies that pay my friend's company the "big bucks" to make the Perfect PowerPoints also already know all of the above. Ah, will my friend go out of business - or will his 'PerfectPoint' business GROW - because of AI? 

As with all learning, we have choices. We can invest the time and money to learn it ourselves, or we can pay someone to do it for us. We learn things because we NEED to learn them, or simply because we are interested. Maybe we are just curious. But one thing is for certain: AI is not going to take your job, but someone who has MASTERED AI is going to take your job. Or take your clients and customers. Or win over your paying students. If you are a teacher, trainer, coach - you will soon become very aware of this new reality in learning, the new world of knowledge transfer. The new reality of Subject Matter Mastery. (Think Luke Skywalker AND *R2-D2, a team). And, I think this shall be true in 2024, and for at least a few years. Until of course, Quantum Computing becomes commonplace.

Go Google Quantum Computing. Go ahead, you know you want to.... you are....curious, right?

Class dismissed. Or is it? 

In fact, shall class ever be dismissed, ever again? 

*R2-D2 stands for Second Generation Robotic Droid Series-2, 
according to a Star Wars encyclopedia published after the release of the film Star Wars. 
I Googled it. 

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Charlie Says...

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

Starting in the mid-19th century United States, newspaper street vendors would shout "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" when selling newspapers. This became a catchphrase often used to introduce events into a narrative in films.

When I was growing up, "Reading Is Fundamental" was a very popular catchphrase. Instilling a love of reading early gives a child a head start on expanding their vocabulary and building independence and self-confidence. It helps children learn to make sense not only of the world around them but also people, building social-emotional skills and of course, imagination. 

Why is reading good for you? Reading is good for you because it improves your focus, memory, empathy, and communication skills. It can reduce stress, improve your mental health, and help you live longer. Reading also allows you to learn new things to help you succeed in your work and relationships. 

Reading is important because it develops your mind and gives you excessive knowledge and lessons of life. It helps you understand the world around you better. It keeps your mind active and enhances your creative ability. Also, reading improves your vocabulary and develops your communication skills.

My Sunday Blog today is in memory of one of my heroes, Charlie Munger, who passed away this week.

"I think a life properly lived is just learn, learn, learn all the time."

"You should never, when faced with one unbelievable tragedy, let one tragedy increase into two or three because of a failure of will."

"Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Systematically you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. Nevertheless, you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts. Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day – if you live long enough – most people get what they deserve."

"It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent." 

"Take a simple idea, and take it seriously." 

"I see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help." 

"I didn't get to where I am by going after mediocre opportunities." 

"I want to think about things where I have an advantage over others. I don't want to play a game where people have an advantage over me. I don't play in a game where other people are wise and I am stupid. I look for a game where I am wise, and they are stupid. And believe me, it works better. God bless our stupid competitors. They make us rich." 

And finally:

"I am not smart enough to make decisions with no time to think. I make actual decisions very rapidly, but that's because I have spent so much time preparing ourselves by quietly reading."

— Charlie Munger

Ah yes, reading

In his 50s, after a failed eye cataract surgery that rendered his left eye blind, Munger had his left eye removed due to severe pain. When doctors told him that he had developed a condition that may cause his remaining eye to fill up with blood and become blind too, Munger started taking braille lessons. The eye condition eventually receded and he kept eyesight in his right eye for the rest of his life. To one of the most wealthy men in the world - his most precious thing in his life - much more than money - was reading

For years, I ran which was bought by the Distance Learning Association in 2010. Since 2012 we have been advocates of Distance Learning becoming DIGITAL Learning, and now, we feel it is all just DIGITAL LIVING. It only hit me last week, that reading is the key to education - reading is the key to lifelong learning. 

Reading is the key to quality of life. 

This month, we launched our partnership with Perlego making their online library of books, academic texts and tools (trusted by students worldwide) a value-added member benefit of the DLA. The idea for Perlego was born when the founders were struggling with the cost of textbooks as students. From that first search for a more affordable alternative, Perlego has grown into a business that is breaking down the barriers to education for students globally.

Ah yes. Unlimited access to millions of textbooks. Read from anywhere, on your smartphone, tablet or computer. Helping another human being to know more, to do more, to be more. 

I think that good ol' Charlie Munger would approve. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Slightly Blackened Sunday

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

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

The most commonly repeated story behind the Thanksgiving shopping-related Black Friday tradition links it to retailers. As the story goes, after an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers blew so much money on discounted merchandise. Though it’s true that retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black when doing their accounting, this version of Black Friday’s origin is the officially sanctioned—but inaccurate—story behind the tradition.

The real history behind Black Friday, however, is not as sunny as retailers might have you believe. Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only were Philly cops not able to take the day off, but they had to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic. Shoplifters also took advantage of the bedlam in stores and made off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.

By 1961, “Black Friday” had caught on in Philadelphia, to the extent that the city’s merchants and boosters tried unsuccessfully to change it to “Big Friday” in order to remove the negative connotations. The term didn’t spread to the rest of the country until much later, however, and as recently as 1985 it wasn’t in common use nationwide. Sometime in the late 1980s, however, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the “red to black” concept of the holiday mentioned earlier, and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America’s stores finally turned a profit. 

The Black Friday story stuck, and pretty soon the term’s darker roots in Philadelphia were largely forgotten. Since then, the one-day sales bonanza has morphed into a four-day event, and spawned other “retail holidays” such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday. Stores started opening earlier and earlier on that Friday, and now the most dedicated shoppers can head out right after their Thanksgiving meal.

OK, the above AI generated History Lesson of Black Friday is now over. Did you buy anything on Black Friday? Did you watch the Amazon Prime NFL Black Friday game, full of QR codes? How many Black Friday Deals have now been EXTENDED, making the sense of urgency to spend $$$ on THAT DAY and at THAT TIME moot?

What is the opposite of Black Friday?

In North America, the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden, Buy Nothing Day is held the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, concurrent with Black Friday; elsewhere, it is held the following day, which is the last Saturday in November. How about the Buy Nothing Coat Exchange: Four states, including Utah, hold winter coat exchange programs as an alternative to Black Friday shopping.

I write this Sunday Blog sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Cyber Monday is a marketing term for e-commerce transactions on the Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It was created by retailers to encourage people to shop online. The term was coined by Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation and Scott Silverman, and made its debut on November 28, 2005, in a press release entitled "'Cyber Monday' Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year". Cyber Monday takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving; the date falls between November 26 and December 2, depending on the year.

Cyber Monday has become the online equivalent to Black Friday and offers a way for smaller retail websites to compete with larger chains. Since its inception, it has become an international marketing term used by online retailers around the world.

It was not too many years ago, that my two sons would go to Best Buy on Black Friday at the crack of dawn (with my credit card) and I would say "Bring back something good!" And then, it became "We're off to Best Buy..." ON THANKSGIVING DAY, right after the Pumpkin Pie was served. 

Well, whatever "Holiday" you celebrate (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, EXTENDED BLACK FRIDAY...) my only tip to you is this: never buy the extended warranty. That's for chumps. 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Would you like fries with that 5G?

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

McDonald's sold its 100 millionth burger in 1958 and surpassed 400 million two years later. It hit 700 million burgers by 1962, and the billionth burger was served in 1963 on the Art Linkletter TV show.

When did McDonald's change from millions to billions?

“Over 99 Billion Sold.” That's been McDonald's line since April 1994, when it stopped updating the number. History Of The Number: Ray Kroc Began posting the number of total hamburgers sold on their signs in 1955 when Ray Kroc bought his first McDonald's franchise in Des Plaines Illinois. At that time the number on the sign was Over 1 Million Served.

McDonald's Sign Milestones

1955 - 1 million (Ray Kroc's first McDonald's opens in Illinois)

1956 - 5 million

1960 - 400 million

1963 - 1 Billion (served by Ray Kroc himself on National TV)

1969 - 5 Billion

1976 - 20 Billion

1984 - 50 Billion

1987 - 65 Billion

1990 - 80 Billion

April 15, 1994 - 100 Billion! McDonald's executives announced at the annual owner operator convention that they stopped counting hamburgers served because the count has surpassed the 99 Billion Hamburger mark so all the operators should change their signs to say "BILLIONS AND BILLIONS SERVED" and the signs have remained that way since.

Where you going with this Tom?

Today, it's estimated that McDonald's has served billions and billions of burgers, with the Wall Street Journal estimating the chain sold its 300 billionth burger around 2013. USA Today reported that the company sold roughly 75 burgers every second in 2013, or 4,500 burgers every minute. It is now believed to be triple that number, over 200 burgers every second. 

The "billions served" number became so big, that it lost its power. It went from being newsworthy, it went from making it entertaining enough to be announced on National TV, to just not even mentioning it at all. Yeah, 300 billionth in 2013, whatever. The number got so big, so fast, that it is not even worth using in marketing or in advertising. 

OK, Google: how many people are born a day?

385,000 babies.

The UN estimates that around 385,000 babies are born each day around the world (140 million a year). This number will remain relatively stable in the 50 years from 2020 to 2070. From 2070 to 2100, the number will decline to around 356,000 (130 million a year). Death is an inevitable part of life, and it occurs all around the world every day. The global number of deaths per day is around 150,000 deaths. 

Of the people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds (100,000 per day) die of age-related causes. In industrialized nations, the proportion is much higher, reaching 90%.

So, I am no math major, but it seems pretty obvious that there are way more births than deaths around the world, every day. And people are living longer. And people are reading less. Did you know that 1 in 8 adults are illiterate?

According to shocking figures from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), around 774 million people worldwide are illiterate. To many of us, these statistics may be surprising. But more than one in eight adults across the globe are unable to read and write!

Do we take literacy for granted?

What would your life be like if you couldn’t read or write? Would you have been able to get your current job? Or even any job? Living in a country where school attendance is mandatory and adult illiteracy is rare, we’ve probably never considered what our lives would be like if we couldn’t read or write.

For someone who is illiterate and living in poverty, it is extremely difficult to get a job that pays well enough to escape these living conditions. However, learning to read and write can open up job opportunities and help to get people away from poverty.

Without literacy, many people are stuck in dead end jobs which barely support them financially. These jobs offer no area for progression and only add to the levels of poverty in any given country. But, learning to read and write and thriving on the opportunities it can provide can help individuals get better jobs and earn enough money to improve their lives.

What about COMPUTER literacy? What about the world we all live in - now - with Audible books, and social media, and YouTube videos, and AI that now does the reading and the research FOR US? How long will it be before AI replaces (or partners with) our LIVE human teachers in High School, College, even in our Medical Schools? Or Engineering Schools?  

The big buzz in the world today is all about AI and how AI is going to change everything. From anywhere in the world. North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe. High Speed Wireless Internet will (one day) connect the world, truly, from anywhere - to anywhere. We are already saying how "AI is not going to take your job, but someone who has MASTERED AI will take your job." Again, from ANYWHERE in the world. 

OK, land the plane, Tom...

Just how McDonald's used to BRAG on the millions and millions (and then) billions and billions served - the number became so big, so fast, that it lost its marketing power. The number became so big, so fast, it went from being impressive to ordinary. The number became so big, it became "normal". 

Because I have super fast wireless Internet at my home, I can see on that net population growth today is 50,529. Make that 50,553. No make that 50,595.... Well, you get the point. 

I run the Distance Learning Association. Born in New York City 100 years ago (pre-Internet) we are now active with thriving chapters in North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. All in less than 100 years. 

And as we watched Distance Learning morphing into DIGITAL Learning, today it's all just DIGITAL LIVING. Just like McDonald's we are quickly getting to the point where the BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of global Internet Users "served" is now so obvious, that we don't even say the actual number out loud.  

Ah yes, the number of global Internet Users is growing so big so fast, it went from being impressive to ordinary

Normal, even.

^^^ check it out ^^^
[ Snapshot at 6:54 AM EST 11/12/2023 ]

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Word of the Day

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

I love the Word of the Day. No matter what I am doing, no matter where I am in the world, this little "boop" into my inbox makes me pause, and stop and read. What It Means... did you ever stop to think how clean and crisp and clear such a short sentence could be?

What it means... did you already know? Was this a word that you were already familiar with - or did you just - LEARN something new?

I write this Sunday Blog in November, 2023. I've been in business since 1983, but always in and around telecom or technology. Before there was the Internet, before there was smartphones, before there was anything like Ecommerce or "the cloud" or anything remote, there was wireless. The closest thing to "remote" back then was someone carrying a beeper - there were no cellular phones until NYNEX went LIVE in the New York CGSA. Chicago was "the first" in 1983, with AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone Service) but the New York Metro region was the first release of commercial cellular service. And I was there, selling Car Phones in 1983.

Yes, in 1978 and 1979, AT&T tested the first major public cellular network coined AMPS. But Martin Cooper of Motorola made the first call. 

The first handheld cellular phone call was made on April 3, 1973, by Motorola engineer Martin Cooper from Sixth Avenue in New York while walking between 53rd and 54th streets. Cooper hoisted the 2 1/2-pound prototype to his ear and called a rival, Joel Engel of Bell Laboratories at AT&T, to declare that his Motorola team had devised a functional portable phone. “There was silence at the other end of the line,” Cooper recalled. “To this day, Joel doesn’t remember that call, and I’m not sure I blame him.”


In 1983 I found myself walking the streets of New York City, SELLING cellular phones and service. And now in 2023 I find myself walking the streets of New York City, selling Distance Learning. Well actually selling DIGITAL Learning. Ah, let's make that DIGITAL LIVING

In the 80s that clunky “shoe” phone (almost as big as a shoebox) allowed a user to talk for 35 minutes and required 10 hours to recharge. Motorola spent 10 years overcoming technical and regulatory hurdles, and began commercial service in 1983 using a slimmer 16-ounce model that cost between $3,500 and $4,000. Yes, the early phones were too big and expensive to suit most consumers, but they set a precedent for today’s sleek and lightweight models that have become standard equipment for just about everybody.

The ability to deliver Broadband - High Speed WIRELESS Internet to anywhere in the world has changed the world. FROM ANY TIME ZONE, from any latitude and longitude you can learn, work, play, teach, train, coach, mentor as if you are LIVING in New York City. Technically, Distance Learning has been around since the phonograph. But now, today, 5G (high speed wireless Internet) has changed the world. 

Many (many) years ago, the New York Metro Distance Learning Association ( serviced the 5 boroughs of New York City. It expanded to cover the 55M+ people living in the "New York Megalopolis" (Maine to Virginia) as Broadband Internet in the Northeast region of the USA became affordable. During COVID, it once again expanded to cover all of North America, the home of 579M+ people.  Ah, but now 5G is available anywhere in the world


There are 1.4B+ people living in Africa, and around 4.5B+ people are living in Asia. And only 742M+ living in Europe (according to Google).  Ha, only 742M+ 

Distance Learning indeed became DIGITAL Learning, but it is truly now just DIGITAL LIVING. Home, work (and school) is now "where the Wi-Fi is". And thanks to 5G (and I'm sure 6G is coming soon...) anyone from anywhere can "be" in The Big Apple - just like Martin Cooper. Check out - from Africa. 

Ah yes, High Speed Wireless Internet is indeed a requisite for all of us - and I mean ALL OF US on planet earth. 

Oh, and don't even get me started on AI... 

The first handheld cellular phone call was made on April 3, 1973, by Motorola engineer Martin Cooper from Sixth Avenue in New York while walking between 53rd and 54th streets. 

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Try the veal

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

Did your friends laugh at your joke? You could close with, “thank you, folks, try the veal.” The expression “try the veal” is similar to “that’s all, folks!” It’s a way of closing a joke or a comedy set. It’s similar to the saying “been there, done that.”

The phrase has nothing to do with eating veal. It’s a way of telling a crowd of people that you’re finished telling a joke, and they should take their attention away from you to other things in the room or venue.

You can use the phrase “try the veal” as a concluding statement after saying something funny. Comics will use the saying as a closing statement after they finish their act. The phrase suits social use. For instance, if you crack a joke that makes people laugh, you could say, “thanks, folks, you’re too kind. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.”

Around 10 years ago, I was invited (gifted) a dinner at Rao's in NYC. I heard of it, but at the time, I did not KNOW the deal - with the veal - at Rao's. 

So, my favorite show, Billions has now officially ended. In case you didn't see it, I don't want to ruin it, but there is a major scene where Axe pulls out all the stops with a private dinner at Rao's. 

Rao's is famous for not being able to get a table. Like, ever. 

Going from memory (I think it was 2013) I noticed how bright the place was. It may be the brightest fine-dining establishment I've ever been to. The second thing I noticed was Christmas decorations (I was told they stay up year-round). Every chair at every table was full. The bar was crowded. An older man called me over, and motioned to suggest we sit at the two stools open next to him. My oldest son was with me that day. 

"What's your name, and whose table are you at?" he asked. (The tables, as I knew, are all "owned" by regulars who come themselves, invite friends, or donate the table to charity auctions where just the reservation regularly sells for thousands). 

"Capone, I said. Tom Sr. and Jr." 

CAPONE!!! Our special guest! And with that, everyone looked our way... 

The man asked if this was our first time at Rao's. "Yes, but I've been eating Rao's tomato sauce since I was a kid." I knew that would make him smile. 

"The sauce has done well for us," he said. It became clear that this was Frank Pellegrino, one of the owners (aka "Frankie No" because he declines 99% of the requests for reservations). He said he's there every weeknight (Rao's is closed on Saturday and Sunday) except when he's on the West Coast visiting Rao's locations in Las Vegas and Hollywood, which his son manages.

I asked about the reservation policy. Frank said he started assigning tables to steady customers after a three-star review from the New York Times made it nearly impossible to deal with demand.

"The tables are 'owned' by regulars and no one gives them up. Every few months I see all of my clients. And now I am serving their children and grandchildren." Turns out that every table has been booked every night for the past 38 years. 

So how does someone get a table?

"That first table there, they gave their table to this group at the bar. These guys are all executives from (a very BIG Co., can't name them here). If you have a table, you can give it to your friends, your business associates, or to a charity auction (like mine). I never know who's coming in. That's what makes it wonderful. It's serendipity. There's no grand design or plan. The only caveat is if you're not going to use your table and no one else is going to use that table, that's when you call me."

I think that Frank was chatty that day, because I was with my son. And, the name "Capone" helped break the ice. My son and I had the Veal Marsala, but I made sure to not really explain to my son where Veal actually comes from. 

And so, in Season 7, Episode 11 of the TV show Billions Bobby Axelrod takes an influential politician to Rao's for dinner. And watching that show, I was transported back in time to (2013?) with my son, and having the best veal in the city. 

2023: Two months ago, Campbell Soup Company, the iconic canned soup maker, announced it was acquiring Sovos Brands, the company that makes Rao’s sauces, for $2.7 billion. 

Rao's (pronounced ray-ohs) is an Italian-American restaurant founded in 1896. It is located at 455 East 114th Street, on the corner of Pleasant Avenue in East Harlem, New York City. The restaurant was started in 1896 by Joshua Anthony Rao, who moved with his parents from Italy to the United States. He bought a small shop in Italian Harlem, once a very large Italian-American community, and ran the restaurant until his death in 1909. Louis Rao took over the business. 

As I write this Sunday's blog, it hit me that from nothing - Rao's became a billion dollar brand. Frank Pellegrino Sr., a sometime actor and the unflappable gatekeeper of Rao’s, died in 2017. He was 72. I'll never forget how he treated me and my son that day. I admit that at the time, I did not realize where we were, or what we were experiencing. I have never been back to Rao's, and I did not even think about Rao's until Season 7, Episode 11 of Billions. Now I cannot stop thinking about - Rao's the brand. 

A brand so strong, that it was bought for $2.7 billion. A brand so strong that it made it to be highlighted on TV's Billions, where billionaire Bobby Axelrod "buys out" the joint for the night, just to impress someone. Where does a man worth billions take someone to impress them?

Well, you take them to Joshua Anthony Rao's in East Harlem, of course. 

Try the veal.

Rao's sauces, which originated at the exclusive East Harlem Italian restaurant, had sales of $580 million in 2022, largely through Costco and Walmart, and sales have already climbed more than 33% this year so far. 

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Beer with me for a moment

"I was today years old" is a playful expression used on social media to humorously convey the discovery or realization of something new or surprising.

What is the meaning of "I was today years old"?

The phrase “I was today years old” suggests that the person just learned or understood something significant at that moment, implying that they should have known or discovered it earlier in life. For example, someone might post on social media, "I was today years old when I realized that 'news' is the plural of 'new.'" This implies that the person only recently discovered this fact, despite it being common knowledge.

How is the phrase "I was today years old" used on social media?

The phrase is often used when someone comes across a piece of information, a fact, or a life hack that is deemed interesting or mind-blowing. By saying "I was today years old when I found out," the person is emphasizing their delayed realization or the sense of astonishment they experienced upon learning something that seems obvious or widely known to others.

The phrase has become popular in online discussions and memes, often accompanied by humorous or sarcastic reactions to various realizations or discoveries. It serves as a light-hearted way to share and engage with newfound information or insights, while also acknowledging the humor in delayed realizations.

I was today years old when I found out that Baby Showers are a FREE PASS for guys to drink lots of beer and eat lots of wings.

This weekend was a Capone family Baby Shower, in Milford Connecticut. The girls did the traditional Baby Shower at a local restaurant in Milford. The boys did BEER AND WINGS. 

I never heard of Archie Moore's before yesterday. With five locations, countless accolades, and over 15 million wings later, Archie Moore's has become Connecticut's neighborhood bar and restaurant. My two sons went to UCONN and Quinnipiac, so they KNEW THE DEAL with Archie Moore's. 

No ... not the boxer.

History shows Archibald Moore — an Irish immigrant — settled in New Haven, Connecticut and established a watering hole on Willow Street in 1898. A succession of taverns remained for nearly a century, but it wasn’t until 1982 that Archie’s served up its award-winning buffalo chicken wings to Connecticut for the first time.

From their website: "Five locations, countless accolades, and over 15 million wings later, Archie Moore’s has become Connecticut’s neighborhood bar and restaurant. You can find our famous Buffalo Wing Sauce at grocery stores across Connecticut, or pick up a bottle at your neighborhood Archie Moore’s."

So next time you’re looking for moore good times with family and friends, moore legendary wings, and moore genuine hospitality, meet us at your neighborhood Archie’s. Tell ‘em Archie sent you.

And now, 24 hours after the Capone Boys WINGS AND BEER extravaganza, I find myself using my Sunday Blog to spread the word about ARCHIE MOORE'S. 

Earlier in the week, I did an interview with the CEO of Solo Brands. It will probably be LIVE on by tomorrow, Tuesday the latest.  From the interview: "We believe in creating good and that starts with inspiring our customers to create a good life. Solo Brands is about Designing Good, Doing Good and Being Good so it can Create Good one good moment at a time."

Archie Moore's. Solo Brands. One company is 100% OFFLINE, as in you drive, you sit down, you eat, you drink. The other is 100% ONLINE, as in nothing brick and mortar. There is no place to drive or walk to and buy - it is purely and only online. And dare I say, both are massively successful. 

On this Sunday morning, it really hit me. I now love Archie Moore's and I now love Solo Brands. I am now in their tribe. I am in their family. I have become their Brand Ambassador

I have no idea what the price of the Beer and the Wings was yesterday. As long as it was "within reason" the price did not really matter. In fact, if the wings were priced too low - it would not have felt right. What happened yesterday was an experience. The "boys" version of a Baby Shower. Was the beer selection good? Yes. Were the wings good? The wings were freakin' amazing. But what really makes me pause, and reflect is that both Solo Brands and Archie Moore's provided an EXPERIENCE

Business Success - Expert Level: It is the way they make us feel. 

From their website: "Solo Stove designs simple, ingenious outdoor products that help you enjoy good moments that turn into lasting memories. Whether it’s a mountain trail, a quiet moment, or a backyard party, we’re grateful to be a part of your Solo Stove experience, and look forward to the decades ahead of delivering products designed for sharing, surviving, storytelling, and s’mores that will bless generations to come."

Sunday, October 15, 2023

8 Days a Week

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

Facebook Memories

Steven Wright is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and film producer. He is known for his distinctive lethargic voice and slow, deadpan delivery of ironic, philosophical and sometimes nonsensical jokes, paraprosdokians, non sequiturs, anti-humor, and one-liners with contrived situations. He tells a joke about going to a 24 hour convenience store, that was closed. "Hey, the sign says open 24 hours..." Yeah, the manager says, but not in a row... Over the years I stole that line for myself. 

"I work 7 days a week, just not in a row."

Ever since we were kids, grown ups would tell us "Gotta get a good education..." where Education = Quality of Life. This is why for the past 100+ years, people from around the world would send their kids to America - to get a good education. Or, parents would scrub floors or work double shifts, to earn enough money to send their kids to college - or even medical school. "Education" was considered to be the key to a good life - access to quality education was the pathway to a better life. 

When I think of the pain and suffering in the world, sometimes we call it evil - I think about the cause, the root of that pain and suffering. And, many times I feel that it comes from the dramatic difference in quality of life. Food, shelter, medicine. Clean drinking water - the things that I take for granted. And then I think back to being told, over and over all my life: Tommy, you gotta get a good education. Education is the key to everything. 

I found a career with | |  that allows me to promote education - to enable quality education to anywhere - to everywhere - to everyone. To create a path forward where there was none. To change lives, via technology, regardless of time zone. Education transforms. Access to quality education is transformative. Education changes lives, and those changed lives are now empowered and enabled to pay it forward. We all know the saying "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". It is more worthwhile to teach someone to do something (for themselves) than to do it for them (on an ongoing basis).

As I write this post on Sunday October 15, 2023 the news is full of reports of tragedy. Reports of evil acts, the most horrific reports of the worst of humanity. And I think how there would be less suffering in the world if there was food, shelter, medicine - for all. I think about how quality education for all could change everything for everyone. "Oh, how I wish my children, my family, my community had less food, less shelter, had poor health, and had less access to quality education" said no one ever. 

Education = Quality of Life. I think this is why I can easily work 7 days a week... just not in a row. And if there were 8 days in a week, I would work 8. 

Everyone - Everywhere: Teach Everything You Know. Ask for help - get the help that you need - and then (one day) you too can pay it forward. Circle of Life and whatnot...

[ From my upcoming book ] book tour goes LIVE in 2024

Sunday, October 8, 2023

It's all about the after party...

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

An after party, often referred to simply as an "afterparty," is a social gathering or event that takes place after a larger, more formal event has concluded. After parties are commonly associated with events like concerts, music festivals, weddings, film premieres, awards shows, and other similar occasions. The purpose of an after party is to continue the celebration, socializing, and entertainment that began at the main event.

After parties can take on various forms and themes, depending on the nature of the main event and the preferences of the organizers and attendees. They may feature music, dancing, drinks, food, and a more relaxed atmosphere compared to the primary event. After parties can be exclusive, invite-only affairs or more open and inclusive, depending on the organizers' intentions.

In some cases, after parties are organized by event promoters, artists, or individuals separate from the main event organizers. They can be held at a different venue, or sometimes, they take place in a designated area within the same venue.

Overall, after parties provide an opportunity for people to unwind, socialize, and extend the enjoyment of an event into the late hours of the night or early morning.

I have an opinion: Attend the event, attend the after party. 

Ultimately, attending an after party is a personal choice. If you're interested in the event, have the energy, and can do so safely and comfortably, it can be a fun way to extend your social experience. However, if you're not particularly interested or have other priorities, it's perfectly fine to skip it and make a decision that aligns with your preferences and well-being.

I have lost count how many events I have attended since 1983. Massive events like CES in Las Vegas or NRF in NYC. Lunch 'n Learns, Sunset Seminars, the list is long. Last week over the course of the entire day, we had 10K+ join us LIVE on the Hudson River via Propelify, and 10X that number "signed up" for the event with no intention ever attending LIVE. Zoomtopia was last week at the San Jose Convention Center, and I attended that, from my home. I don't think any event moving forward will NOT be hybrid. 

I think that Behavioral Science plays a big role in the results of Meetings & Events. LIVE webinars are cool, and I love attending from the comfort of my home office. But, I hate finding out that the webinar is really just a bunch of recordings, the classic "a webinar that could have been a YouTube." 

I reflected on the actual "results" of the many events that I have attended since 1983. The actual results, the actual business outcomes that actually turned in to sales, into revenue, into value - were because I attended not just the event, but the ultimate success was traced back to the fact that I ALSO attended the after party. Heck - sometimes I only attended the after party! 

Personally, I am very spoiled. I live 30 miles West of Times Square - you know - the Center of the Known Universe. It is easy for me to attend events in New York City, even at the last minute. It was once famously said; if you stand at Times Square long enough, you'll see the entire world walk by. 

I am feeling that a variation of that famous line is also true: if you attend enough after parties, you will get everything you wanted from investing in the event in the first place. If you bought the airline ticket, if you booked the hotel, if you invested the time and the money in going to the event in the first place - attend the after party. 

Ah yes, the after party. That is where all the magic happens. Not in the webinar Q&A, not in the poll questions, not in the post-event newsletters. The magic happens in the room with (live) people, with the food, with the handshakes and the fistbumps. The room with the smiles and the jokes and the pet stories, and, well, where the friendships form, and partnerships are born. 

After parties are the one thing that cannot be hybrid, and cannot be virtual. 

People still do business with people, not AI chatbots, right? People with cats and dogs and kids and grandkids. After parties with rooms full of people who love the Yankees and people who hate the Yankees...and....and...

Let's meet (LIVE) in NYC! 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Nostalgia Sells

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

"Name that show..."

Nostalgia is a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. The word nostalgia is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of νόστος (nóstos), meaning "homecoming", a Homeric word, and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning "sorrow" or "despair", and was coined by a 17th-century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home. It was described as a medical condition, a form of melancholy.

And, Nostalgia sells.

Everything old is new again, so it's no surprise that streaming service Paramount+ would go into its library of hits for a reboot. And, boy, did they pick a winner with Frasier, which received 107 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, with 37 wins, in its 11 seasons on NBC.

Cheers originally aired on NBC from September 30, 1982 to May 20, 1993. Over the series run, 275 original episodes aired, an average of 25 episodes per season. In the early 1990s, 20 volumes of VHS cassettes were released; each had three half-hour episodes.

I was 22 in 1982. 

There is barely a sitcom from the past 30 years that doesn’t owe some sort of debt to Cheers. Story arcs. Cold opens. The workplace-as-melting pot format of its Boston bar. Most famously of all, it introduced us to Sam and Diane: the original sitcom will-they, won’t-they? couple who, over the course of five mostly wonderful seasons, popularised a whole new kind of romance – before discovering its limits.

Who remembers TV Guide? Who remembers "Must See TV"?  

Must See TV is an American advertising slogan that was used by NBC to brand its primetime blocks during the 1990s, and most often applied to the network's Thursday night lineup, which featured some of its most popular sitcoms and drama series of the period, allowing the network to dominate prime time ratings on Thursday nights in the 1980s and 1990s.

The term "Must See TV" has been used so often that it has almost lost all relevance. Game of Thrones? Must see TV. The Sopranos? Must see TV. Squid Game, Ted Lasso, The Mandalorian? Must see, must see, must see. Yet there was a time not all that long ago where the term wasn't a catch-all applied to the pop-culture series du jour. It was, in fact, a heavily-promoted slogan created by NBC promotional producer Dan Holm in 1993 that would come to be associated with NBC's dominant Thursday evening block throughout the 1990s. Although many shows were rotated through the block — Frasier, Wings, and Mad About You to name a few — the most prominent line-up of series associated with the Thursday night slogan happen to be three of the most iconic of all time: Seinfeld, Friends, and ER. But were they really "Must See TV"? Yes. Yes, they were.

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

Well, tomorrow I turn 63. And watching TV - only when the show was ON TV, was a big part of my life. In my 20s if you missed a show, that was it - you missed it. Appointment Television was a thing - you would make plans to watch a show. Anyone remember TiVo?

It is now 2023, and I am the Master of My Domain. No, not the Seinfeld episode, "The Contest"

I watch TV (should we even call it TV?) when I want, where I want, from any device that I want. Around 6 months ago, I bought a Mac mini. It was actually my first Apple computer - iPhone or two over the years, yes. But never Apple for my computers. And, because of the purchase of my Mac mini, I got a free 3 months subscription of Apple TV+ so, why not. Today, I just noticed my first $6.99 charge hitting my credit card for October. No Mac mini, probably no Apple TV+ $6.99 charge, every month. 

Must See TV is now Must Stream TV (Ah, do we still even call it TV? Should we?)

And so, I have now seen all of Ted Lasso (without my wife - she passed on watching it with me). Now watching The Morning Show, Season 1, (with my wife - her idea). Last night we started Season 1 and we watched non-stop for around 4 or 5 hours of episodes. We shall probably pick up where we left off tonight...  

Cheers was one of the greatest sitcoms of the late '80s and early '90s. Before there was Seinfeld, it was this little bar in Boston where we wanted to be. It's there where we hung out with an ensemble made up of a variety of characters who felt like our own friends as the years went on. Among them was psychiatrist named Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer). He wasn't the most popular character - but - he's the one who got his own spinoff when Cheers came to an end in 1993.

The Frasier reboot has an uphill battle ahead of it, right? The original was a classic show that won many Emmy Awards. That time in our lives can't be reduplicated, and that feels okay. To not see the cast we love so much is going to be sad, but that feels okay as well. We weren't turning into the original Frasier hoping to see the other cast members in Cheers show up, right? 

Cheers was one of the biggest TV series ever - and yet - Frasier succeeded anyway. This new Frasier series can succeed as well, but for many, it's going to be hard letting go of that original Frasier ensemble we loved so much. 

They were a part of our lives, and maybe they still are... don't get me started on Eddie the dog. 

Frasier premieres its first two episodes of a 10-episode season on Thursday, Oct. 12 streaming exclusively on Paramount+. New episodes will then drop weekly on Thursdays, exclusively on Paramount+. For those who don't subscribe to Paramount+, CBS will broadcast a special airing of the first two episodes on Tuesday, Oct. 17 beginning at 9:15 p.m. ET/PT.

Hey, who remembers what Dr. Frasier Crane would say at the beginning of each of his radio shows? 

When people called in to his radio show, they're assured that Dr. Crane is listening to them because he says, "I'm listening."

OK, North America..... it's 2023...... and I'm now 63..... that's 40 years of (TV?) And I'm streaming.

"Im streaming, when I want, from where I want. Oh, and I'm also blogging, and podcasting, and...and...and..." 

"The Contest"

"Nostalgia Sells"