Sunday, January 29, 2023

We Shall Reconnoiter in Times Square

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

Times Square - NYC

This week, convened at Convene

I don't know who named Convene "Convene" but they nailed it. Convene - as in to gather, to come together in one body or place. 

This month was CES in Las Vegas, with 100,000+ physically attending the Consumer Electronics Show. Attendance in 2019 (pre-COVID) was 182,000. Also this month was NRF 2023 at Javits Center NYC. Retail's Big Show hosted 40,000+ retail professionals and vendors from more than 90 countries for educational and networking opportunities. 

I attended CES virtually, and I attended NRF in person. Having New York City in my back pocket is, well, strategic. I live 30 miles West of Times Square. More than once, I have jumped on a bus in the morning, attended an unscheduled lunch meeting, and still made it back home in time for dinner and a trip to the dog park.

It was once famously said that if you stand in Times Square long enough, you'll see the entire world walk by. I have also heard it this way: If you stand in Times Square long enough, you will meet everyone you know. Times Square is famous for the New Year celebration, but it is also truly the center of the known universe. When someone asks me where I live, instead of saying "Northern New Jersey" most of the time I just say that I live "30 miles West of Times Square" and that usually kick starts the conversation. 

The NYDLA "office" is at 900 3rd Avenue NYC at GATEWAY. I usually go into NYC every other week. Whenever possible I work from my home office and I schedule my in-person (LIVE) meetings around scheduled events in the city. So, technically, I usually only need an office four days out of the month. 

Hard Rock International is a Sapphire Level Sponsor of and they have over 31 unique Hotels, Resorts and locations around the world. One of the new locations is Hard Rock Times Square - a two minute walk from the new Convene location, 1221 Avenue of the Americas. So our paid members can work at GATEWAY or at Convene, and then Sleep(?) at the Hard Rock Times Square. 

Convene is a leading hospitality company founded off the simple question asked by their CEO Ryan Simonetti: "What if you ran an office building like a hotel?" The Convene mission is to elevate the way people meet, work and live by reimagining what a "workday" means for today's most innovative organizations. Convene created a network of beautifully designed and tech-enabled meeting, event and WorkPlace locations (12 locations in The Big Apple). (and now members enjoy the friends and family treatment at all Hard Rock locations - and - at all Convene locations. Ah yes, membership has its privileges. Convene is, simply amazing. 

Javits Center. GATEWAY. Hard Rock International. Convene. 
I had my own simple question: "What if we ran a school, like the way that you run a city? A school - in a city - in the clouds? shall go live this year. Attend lectures and classes from home, attend lectures and classes from anywhere. Your location or ours. And our location? Well, Times Square of course - the center of the known universe. Live, learn, work, play, teach, train, coach, mentor - from anywhere. Attend classes and lectures from Convene, from Hard Rock, from GATEWAY. And of course, from the comfort of your home. Hey, you did right? 

Yeah, if you stand in Times Square long enough, you just might learn something. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

You Exit Through the Gift Shop

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Many years ago, when the kids were still little we made the obligatory trip to Disneyworld. While we were sitting for lunch off Main Street, U.S.A. I was a witness to a business lesson that stuck with me for life.

I watched as a young boy was going through a "rite of passage" as he was about to go into a store - alone -  and he was going to make a purchase - with his own money. 

It was like a scene from a Disney movie unfolding before my eyes. How appropriate, as Main Street U.S.A. is themed to resemble American small towns during the early 20th Century. The parents were there, and they pointed him in the right direction. The boy was walking into the store (by himself) with his (own) money clutched in his hand. The parents were watching, supervising, but they were pretending that they were not. Our family was sitting close enough to overhear the conversations. Their young son was going to make a purchase with his own "piggy bank money" like a big boy.

The father was covertly watching through the window of the shop and said back to his table loud enough for me to hear "He's buying a snow globe." As the Dad scrambled to sit back down unnoticed, out came his little boy...

And SMASH, there goes the snow globe into a million pieces. The little guy missed a step on the way down the stairs. Instantly the tears were flowing. The little kid was devastated. And I was a witness to it all.

Within seconds, a gentleman who was "sweeping up" from several feet away said, "Son, son... go inside and pick out another snow globe. Go ahead, get another snow globe." 

"But I don't have any more money.....that was all of my money...!!!" sniffled the young boy. 

"Go, just go... tell them you dropped your snow globe."

And within a minute or two, out came the boy, with a huge beaming smile, carrying his replacement snow globe. And this time, he did not drop it.  

The parents said a simple "thank you" to the man who obviously worked for sanitation in the park. Before he walked too far away, I walked over to him and I spoke up. "Hey, I saw what you did there with that little boy - that was pretty cool." What that Disney employee said back to me  - the man who was sweeping up - his words lasted with me for more than 25 years: 

"Disney is the happiest place on earth. We make memories that last a lifetime." 

While riding the rides at Disney, it struck me that you exit through the gift shop. The businessman in me noticed this, deeply. You get off the ride and as you exit, you are funneled through the gift shop - a gift shop usually themed for the rides or the characters from a Disney movie or whatnot. And, there were always snow globes. They made it really easy for you to buy things from the Disney gift shop. Things like Disneyworld knickknacks, Disney movie trinkets, Disney collectables and of course - Disney character themed snow globes. 

In modern culture, snow globes often symbolize childhood, innocence, or so-called "happy days" from our past. The film Citizen Kane (1941) starts with Charles Foster Kane in bed holding a snow globe, uttering "Rosebud...", the globe slips from his dying hand and smashes. Many films, books and TV shows have used snow globes as part of the storyline - sometimes with dark humor to evoke more gruesome scenes. 

I have been to Orlando and Disney many times for business, but it has been 25+ years since I exited a ride at Disneyworld and walked through one of their gift shops. But as I hold the remote control for my TV, I see that there are buttons for Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+ baked into the remote.

And every time I see that Disney+ button, I instantly think about that Brand Ambassador of Disney, that guy who was sweeping up 25+ years ago. That Disney employee who was empowered to protect the Disney brand, and who took it upon himself to without hesitation - drive home the culture of the brand. Even though I have not been (physically) back to Disneyworld in many years with the family, whenever I see the Disney+ logo, I am transported back in time to that "snow globe" day, even if just for a second. 

Yes, when (any theme park) makes you exit through the gift shop, it is all about the financial ROI, it is all about the business, the opportunity to convert a sale. You FEEL IT, when you are getting off the ride - you say to yourself: ah, they are trying to get into my wallet. They want me to buy something - anything - they want me to buy a damn snow globe! 

My friend Ted Rubin taught me all about ROR - Return on Relationship. Simply put, ROR is the value that has accrued by a person or a brand due to nurturing a relationship where the ROI is simply about money, revenue, profits. You know, the ROI of forcing you to exit through their gift shop.

ROR is the value that will accrue over time through connection, trust, loyalty, recommendations and sharing. 

This morning, I realize that I have had a deep, positive relationship with Disney and the Disney brand for many years. I have had a positive relationship with Disney and with the Disney brand ever since that kid accidently smashed his snow globe - and he immediately got the free replacement. That is ROR, all from the immediate response from that observant Disney Brand Ambassador - all from the guy who was sweeping up. 

25+ years of positive thoughts about the Disney brand, the Disney culture because of "the snow globe incident" and how it was handled. 

How do you put a value on that ROR? with Ted Rubin Part II
is coming soon......

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Seeing your memories

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I was gifted a Google Nest Hub for Christmas. It's one of those gadgets that I was always going to buy for myself but never did. The thing that I love the best about this thing is the way that it randomly pops up memories. Every 60 seconds or so, a random pic appears - from last week, from last month, or from many (many) years ago. 

In the past, often the topic of my Sunday blog was all about.....well.......the past. I have previously blogged about the Facebook feature of "See your memories..." and how posts from years ago "bubble up" again in your Facebook feed. And here we are again, blogging about the past

January is always a big month for us for LIVE events. CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas. NRF (National Retail Federation) in New York. I used to go to CES in Vegas every year. It was a big deal, a not to be missed convention. The last time I (physically) went to CES was pre-pandemic. 

I recently did a "Best of CES" interview with Greg Harper, who has been going to CES for 30+ years. Now then, NRF is right in my backyard at Javits Center. So, it is super easy for me to attend NRF in person. Around 100,000+ attended CES 2023 LIVE. We expect 40,000+ to attend NRF 2023. So that is 140,000+ LIVE LIVE attendees. 

And the ( now ) shall be following up with all of them. As in - ALL OF THEM. 

Because of COVID, I now have hands-on experience attending mega events both LIVE LIVE, and LIVE (Virtually). I guess it is safe to say that if you cannot attend an in-person event LIVE LIVE, then attending LIVE (Virtually) is you second best option. A third option is to sign up and rely on getting the recordings. I am very guilty of this: signing up for webinars with no intention of attending LIVE LIVE, but I plan on making the time to watch the recordings (yeah, right). 

Tomorrow will be our "big day" at NRF2023. Walking the floor at Javits, having meetings, attending the keynotes. So many of our vendors and sponsors will have mega booths. Tomorrow night, we shall have a VIP reception at Butter Midtown. We have arranged for a free shuttle from Javits to Butter - and also $20 Uber credits for those who wish to join us for the after party.  

Here is what hit me as I write this January 2023 Sunday blog. All of the memories - all of the major events - all of the big and impactful and successful "business meetings" were - live. The business memories that matter the most, they all involved handshakes. The memories that really resonate with me, those things that make it to my "See your memories" feed in Facebook or in my new Google Nest hub were LIVE LIVE. I don't think I have seen a single pic of a virtual event in my feeds. Everything that the AI engines of Facebook and/or Google think were a cool memory, was at one point LIVE LIVE

And this opinion is coming from 

99% of the people that are reading this Sunday blog know that I run the Distance Learning Association. And they also know that I always say that Distance Learning has become DIGITAL Learning, and if you get right down to it, it is all just DIGITAL LIVING

And, anyone that knows me, also knows my "catch phrase" that we are all:

Living, learning, working, playing, teaching, training, coaching, mentoring in the GLOBAL cloud economy. I can say that in around 2, maybe 3 seconds. 

I love the magic of TBLS - Technology Based Learning Systems. I am a big fan of the power of the cloud, and SaaS and all of the hardware and software that powers all things "remote" in our global community. Heck, I'm in the remote business...

But our memories, our best moments in life, they all happen LIVE LIVE. The things that make our "See your memories" feeds in social media - they are always LIVE LIVE

I'll be attending ISE 2023 in Barcelona - virtually. Many of my friends and colleges will "Cross the Pond" and attend LIVE LIVE. I would LOVE to go to Barcelona, I just cannot make it happen THIS year. 

Ah, but tomorrow will be a FULL DAY at NRF2023 in The Big Apple. And at 5:30 PM the members, vendors and sponsors of shall meet up at Butter Midtown for great food and adult beverages. And lots of handshakes. And lots of selfies and group pics. 

Did I mention the adult beverages? 

Butter Midtown NYC

Some of my Google Nest Hub Memories 
for 1/15/2023

Sunday, January 8, 2023

How do you like your eggs?

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

Milford, Connecticut

My wife and I just returned to New Jersey from a great weekend with the kids in Connecticut. Drove up yesterday, back home today. Around 90 minutes each way, if there is no traffic. 

Something struck me on the ride back home. Over the past 48 hours, I was asked: "How do I like my steak?" and "How do I like my eggs?" and "How do I take my coffee?" and I was asked about several other things. At the exact moment of the questions, I did not really pay attention to the fact that I was in a position to fine tune my experiences and get exactly what I wanted while in Connecticut. 

This weekend trip was our first time spending the night in my son's new home. My son Bobby and his wife Emily live in a Connecticut neighborhood that is only a short walk from the beach. My other son Tommy and his wife Danielle also live in a Connecticut beach town - but not walking distance. Maybe they have a healthy bike ride from their house to the beach. But each of the respective (Capone) beach towns have their own pluses and features. 

As I pulled into our home driveway in New Jersey just a few minutes ago, I thought about WHY we live where we live, and what choices were made over the years to determine where we live. And, my wife I had long conversations such as would we ever move from New Jersey to Connecticut, to be closer to the kids? What would have to happen for us to sell our home in NJ and move to Connecticut? What if one of the kids moved to.....Texas (or CA or FLA or Ireland!) for work? Would we move there, too? [ Hint: grandchildren would be a HUGE factor in every decision... ]. 

Today, Sunday, many of the members of are returning to their respective homes from Las Vegas, after attending the 2023 Consumer Electronic Show (CES). Some of our folks have been going to CES for years - as in more than 30! CES is expected to have drawn up to 100,000 attendees by the time it concludes today.

Next week, is NRF2023, the National Retail Federation show in New York city. From next Sunday to Tuesday, we expect up to 45,000 attendees to physically enter Javits Center over several days. And we expect 400,000+ to attend NRF2023 virtually, from home.

New York City - The Big Apple is in my back yard. I'm going!

Las Vegas - Sin City, not so much in my back yard. Let others go. 

My wife and I have a rescue dog, Konta. He is a Border Collie - Australian Cattle Dog mix, but we don't know the exact ratios. Bobby and Emily rescued Paco last year - 40.3% Chihuahua. Tommy and Danielle have a cat, Bubba. And Bubba is the largest house cat I have ever seen in my life. Bubba looks like a small Puma. I think they should have Bubba tested. 

Konta and Paco Capone both enjoyed a day on the beach yesterday. Bubba Capone, not so much - he stayed home in Madison, Connecticut. Before we all walked to the beach yesterday, the (Human) Capones had a conversation about walking vs. driving to the beach. We walked to the beach. 

The people who attended CES (LIVE) in Las Vegas will probably not attend NRF2023 (LIVE) in New York. Some might, but the Venn Diagram of who is in BOTH groups is nebulous

The people who live in Connecticut probably don't also own homes in New Jersey. And vice versa. It probably never comes up in conversation. When Bobby and Emily rescued Paco Capone, they knew that he was a Chihuahua, but not by what percentage. Now, they know exactly: 40.3%. Danielle had Bubba Capone since he was a kitten. There was no way to predict how big Bubba would become when fully grown. (I'm telling you, he has some Puma in him...maybe Bobcat...). 

OK, Tom...... land the plane...... How does any of this apply to business? 

We don't realize the number of decisions we (all of us) make in life - every day. Where we live, what we eat, what we do for a living - EVERYTHING is a result of the sum of the decisions we make. Sometimes we give almost no thought to our decisions. Sometimes we agonize over them. Who we marry, what we do for a living, adopting a pet - what makes us agonize over some decisions, and other decisions hardly get any attention at all? 

I like my eggs scrambled, my coffee with milk and sugar, and my steak medium. And at 62 years old, I think I will continue to answer those questions the same way that I have for the past 45+ years. I'll answer THOSE questions fast, and without much thought. 

If our kids lived in New Jersey, I am not sure that we would ever move. Maybe we might buy a 2nd home or vacation home. Or maybe just travel and do Airbnb or Pacaso or Vrbo when we want to explore the world. But the minute grandchildren are on the scene, all bets are off. 

Some decisions are easy and just roll off the tongue. Other decisions are very hard, requiring deep thought. Until, of course, those hard decisions become very easy indeed. 

Ah yes, Grandchildren. The X factor of life. 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

annus mirabilis


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Annus mirabilis means "a remarkable or notable year." The first known use of annus mirabilis was in 1667. The British poet John Dryden said that the "year of wonders" was 1666. That was the year of a great British naval victory over the Dutch, as well as the date of the great London fire. So, John Dryden was the first to use Annus Mirabilis. 

And so, annus horribilis is a disastrous or unfortunate year. 

I get the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day in my inbox, well, every day. Annus mirabilis was the word of the day for today, 1/1/2023. 

OK, so this Sunday morning, this New Year's Day morning, I was a little dry, creatively. I try to blog every Sunday. That makes 52 blog posts per year, if I stick to my knitting. Damn, did I just say stick to my knitting?

So for this New Year's Day blog, the Merriam-Webster word of the day is my muse. And because of the email to my inbox this morning, I can ALSO see that the Word of the YEAR for 2022 is Gaslighting.

In this age of misinformation, the age of "fake news," conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deep fakes, gaslighting has emerged as a word for our times.

A driver of disorientation and mistrust, gaslighting is "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one's own advantage." 2022 saw a 1740% increase in lookups for gaslighting, with high interest throughout the year.

A few things happened in the last days of 2022. One, was the long anticipated release of Trump's tax returns. I will try to keep today's blog apolitical. The point is this: had the tax returns been released years ago, there is a very good chance that history would have been very different. If the 2016 election went differently, I feel that COVID would have been handled differently. I am not sure that Russia would have invaded Ukraine. But we shall let the historians debate all of this.

Yesterday, my friend Tim from Essex Catholic High School pinged me on Facebook, and he sent me a picture from 1977. That year was annus mirabilis for me, to be sure. I became a Freshman at PURDUE in 1977, with my entire life and future mapped out. Medical School or bust! [ Spoiler alert: I don't have MD license plates.] 

My friend Tim's father passed away yesterday. He had been sick for some time, but over the past few months his father deteriorated rapidly. He was moved to hospice on the 29th, and managed to hang on through the 30th, which is Tim's mother's birthday. A few days earlier, Tim's grandson was born - on Christmas Day. 

Tim said, "I think, if Dad had any control at all over when he passed, he would have wanted to wait until after midnight on December 30th. He would not have wanted to die on mom's birthday. But, there was a residual effect to lasting until New Year's Eve, one that I did not anticipate: the day ended, literally, with fireworks. It was quite a send-off."

So, in 2022, Tim lost his father. Tim's father left the world, as Tim's newborn grandson arrived. 

Annus mirabilis and annus horribilis, just a few days apart. 

And with that, Happy New Year to all of you! Whatever you are excited to do at the start of 2023, I hope you're just as excited to still be doing it at the end of 2023. Just do it all with truth, love and kindness, and watch how everything works out just fine. Consistency is a gift that keeps on giving: Teach everything you know. Ask for help - get the help - then you too can pay it forward. 

Day 1 of annus mirabilis is today. 

Me and Tim
Essex Catholic Food Drive - 1977