Sunday, July 30, 2023

Another Bang-Bang play!

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

A "bang-bang" play is a term used to describe a close play in baseball or football. In baseball, a "bang-bang" play is when the runner is barely thrown out, usually at first base. The term may reflect the "bang" of the ball in the first-baseman's glove followed immediately by the "bang" of the base runner's foot hitting the bag. Because of the quick succession, the umpire sometimes fails to make the call.

In football, a "bang-bang" play is when multiple events occur at once or quickly in succession. For example, a "bang-bang" play could be a quick pass to get the WR out of bounds.

For me, in business, a "bang-bang" play (or deal) is when it all happens FAST.

I had a bang-bang business deal this month. I answered (responded to) an ad on my personal Facebook page (I usually don't do that, ever). This one, caught my eye. From there, I found their website. From there I found the founders/owners on LinkedIn. From there, we had a Zoom meeting. And then one more Zoom meeting with the CEO and COO. From there - I became their North American partner. Turns out, their Angel Investor is one of the wealthiest men in Australia. Bang-bang!

This all happened within a few days, definitely less than a week. It is funny how sometimes in business, things just... drag on. Meetings. Then the follow up meetings. And then, contract negotiations. It is like all the air is sucked out of the room. Boring. Sometimes it becomes depressing, sometimes it becomes painful. You might even begin to forget why we are even talking about doing anything at all. 

I always look forward to the bang-bang business deals. The energy is high. The pace is fast. It is like the "ah ha!" moments are bouncing off each other. There is a spark, and an immediate visionary optimism as to what the future holds - for both sides. 

Good timing can turn a mediocre product into a breakout success; bad timing can destroy an otherwise successful career. In business, timing is everything. Unfortunately, most people think timing is just like luck. Proper timing can help businesses maximize revenue and gain a competitive advantage. For example, launching a product at the right time can help businesses take advantage of market conditions, consumer trends, and seasonal demand to increase sales. Timing can also help businesses align with their customers' journeys. Customers react to products differently and make decisions at different times for different products.

If a startup arrives too early, it may not get the expected traction. If it enters the market late, there are already competitors and entry barriers to fend off. This can result in poor reception by potential consumers. Timing can also be an important aspect of productivity and time management. Bang-bang business deals, for me, are my favorite thing. I feed off of them. It makes me think about luck, and how success comes from 50% being lucky, and 50% being prepared for the luck when it arrives. 

Bang-bang deals also remind me that when two people want to do business together - it will happen. You can be late to the first meeting, you can make a few missteps along the way - if people WANT it to work out, it will all work out. And, the opposite is true. If two people really (maybe even secretly) don't want to do business together - it is not going to happen. Not because of price, not because of any measurable reason. It will be all smiles and jokes, drinks and lunch meetings and pats on the back - and then nothing is going to cross the finish line. A big fat waste of time and money, poof. 

Cherish the bang-bang business deals when you come across them. They will become the stories you tell at the company holiday parties. 

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Great idea!

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

Fill it Forward is a company that creates reusable products, interactive technologies, and global giving initiatives to inspire people to reuse. The Fill it Forward app tracks beverage consumption, environmental impact, and donations to clean water projects. The app also allows you to track waste diverted, emissions saved, and how much ocean pollution you have prevented. You can set goals and reminders to help you meet your hydration goals.

The Fill it Forward program offers free cup tags to students to promote sustainability, hydration, and philanthropy. There's also a Google Fill it Forward bottle that allows you to scan a QR code each time you refill to see how much plastic is saved from being discarded. Each scan also unlocks a donation to a worthy cause.

Matt Wittek is the founder and CEO of Fill it Forward.

Hey Matt! That was MY idea! ( Ahem ) 

Years ago, I bought the domain name  The logic, my "big idea" was that we could put an "uber cookie" on a website, and whenever anyone clicked on that cookie enabled website, whenever anyone visited the website, money ($0.001 or such...) would go to eliminating hunger. So, your social media "feed" would feed the world, get it? Every visit to your social media feed or to your company website would help to feed the world. My idea. 

It was at a recent Zoom event in NYC that I learned of Fill It Forward. It looks like Matt Wittek has been doing cool stuff for 11+ years. "At the Fill it Forward Company, we believe choosing to reuse is a simple act of generosity that shows love for our planet and the people on it. We create interactive technologies, global giving initiatives and reusable products that inspire the world to reuse."

I am going to definitely reach out to Matt and see if he would do a interview with me. Looks like there is a cool entrepreneurial story here, one that can use a few more eyeballs. But here is the real thing that made me blog on this today.

The world is full of ideas. Good ideas. There is no shortage of ideas. When people are worried about someone stealing their idea, they are really not very business savvy. No one wants to steal an idea, but people DO want the execution of a good idea. I don't know if Fill It Forward was Matt's idea, but there sure is a lot of good execution going on over there. 

So, I am now wondering if there might be a crossover, or some form of hybrid here. What if there is a QR Code/ Uber Cookie mash up, that allows for my idea to merge with their idea? What if any click to any website, any social media feed, would feed the world - or enable some other cool humanitarian result? 

My idea, would have used Ubercookies. Ubercookies remember when you are logged in, so you don't have to log in again for each page you visit. Ubercookies are small files of letters and numbers that are stored on your browser or computer's hard drive. They are typically removed when you log out to ensure that only logged in users can access restricted features. Ubercookies can be used to track users and collect data about their browsing behavior.

It would have been something like this, on millions of websites: 

"Our website is powered by Ubercookies and every visit to our website helps to eliminate hunger in America. Thanks for stopping by!"

My idea is still just that - just an idea. It FEELS like a good idea, but in its current state, no hungry child is getting any assistance. Ideas are plentiful, it is all about the execution. 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

SAFE! Safe at home!

This past week we attended a Zoom Partner Event in NYC. When I told my wife that I was going to NYC for a Zoom meeting, she could not understand the need to physically "go" anywhere. Why are you not just attending via Zoom?

My Inbox: You’re registered and confirmed for our Zoom and HP Poly Partner Roadshow in New York City on July 13 from 9:00 am - 6:00 pm! We look forward to seeing you in person and sharing a technical lab environment where you’ll have the opportunity to interact with Zoom and HP Poly Partner Engineers & expand your knowledge on Zoom’s platform of products. This is an in-person event and will not be virtual.

When I asked my wife about "Zoom" and her thoughts about all things Zoom, she said, "Well, it was Zoom that made us safe at home. Zoom kept us safe during the pandemic."

Ah yes. Safe at home. 

I focused on the "safe at home" while I was taking the tour of MLB in NYC. Turns out that Major League Baseball is a MAJOR client and power user of Zoom.  And - they use Zoom to power REPLAY REVIEW for all MLB games. 

This week is the 2023 USDLA National Convention in Orlando. Alas, I cannot attend LIVE-LIVE as I have a speaking engagement in NYC. But, via the power of Zoom, I will be able to attend virtually. We expect several hundred people to fly into Orlando for the USDLA event, but thousands will attend from all around the world. Zoom meetings, Zoom events, Zoom phone, Zoom Telehealth - the world is indeed 

This Tuesday I am attending (speaking) at the FutureIT event in NYC. Hence I cannot be in Orlando with the amazing people of the USDLA. Tuesday, July 18 is FutureIT New York, the year's most important conference for tech insiders. And, I will be in great company! IT professionals from Goldman Sachs, Google. Deutsche Bank, Fordham University, NFL, Pfizer, UBS, US Treasury, and more plan to attend. I have been telling the world to sign up to meet industry experts, peers, and solution providers to learn the latest innovations in AI/ML, enterprise automation, cybersecurity, cloud, and more. And, meet me. You know, 

USDLA, celebrating 36 years of Distance Learning > DIGITAL Learning > DIGITAL LIVING. Wow, 36 years. Technology changes everything, right? 

Here are some changes to Major League Baseball (MLB) for the 2023 season:
  • Pitch timer: Pitchers have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty, and 20 seconds with a runner on base
  • Defensive shifts: Restrictions on defensive shifts
  • Larger bases: Bases are now 18-square inches, up from 15-square inches
  • Home plate: Home plate is now three inches closer to first and third base
  • Corner bases: Corner bases are now 4 1/2 inches closer to second base
  • Extra innings: The extra innings rule regarding the runner on second base is now permanent
  • Position player pitching: Position players can only throw in extra innings, in the ninth when the opposing team is leading by ten or more, or when the losing team is losing by at least eight
  • Mound visits: Umpires are directed to expedite visits to the pitcher's mound, and the number of mound visits is limited to five per team
  • Other changes: A more balanced schedule, faster replay reviews, pickoff/step-off limits, and PitchCom for pitchers
The rule changes are designed to improve the game's pace of play, increase action on the field, and improve player safety. 

Replay review in Major League Baseball (MLB) allows league officials to review certain plays to determine the accuracy of the initial call made by the umpires on the field. The review is designed to provide a timely review of disputed calls. Reviews can be initiated by a manager's challenge or by the umpire crew chief. Managers must request a challenge within 20 seconds of the play in question concluding. The Crew Chief can call for a video review on eligible plays in the 8th inning or later. The New York City video replay crew must come to a decision within two minutes. In 2022, there were more than 1,400 replay reviews. That computes to only 0.59 per game, or basically, just one per team every four games. Nearly 60 percent of all games had zero reviews. MLB became the last of the four major North American sports leagues to use instant replay. Some baseball purists and commissioner Bud Selig believed that replays would break the tradition of putting each game's fate in the hands of the umpires on the field. Time (and technology) changes everything. 

The first Major League Baseball game was played on May 4, 1871 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The game was a National Association contest between the Cleveland Forest Cities and Ft. Wayne Kekiongas. The National Association of Professional Baseball Players (NAPBBP) was the first fully-professional sports league in baseball. The NAPBBP was founded in 1871 and continued through the 1875 season. The first National League baseball game was played on April 22, 1876 when the Boston Red Caps beat the Philadelphia Athletics, 6-5. The first Major League Baseball game was broadcast on August 26, 1939 when the Cincinnati Reds visited the Brooklyn Dodgers and split a doubleheader at Ebbets Field.

The first Major League Baseball night game was played on May 24, 1935 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in the game, which was made possible by recently installed lights at the field. The original plan was for the Reds to play seven night games each season, one against each visiting club.

Meetings. Events. Work. Education. Medicine. Baseball. Sooner or later, technology changes everything. 1871 > 1935 > 2023. Ah yes, the world is indeed And now, Zoom is way, way, WAY more than just video meetings.

Play Ball!

MLB HQ New York City



Sunday, July 9, 2023

Let's make camp

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

A base camp is a main encampment that provides supplies, shelter, and communications for people engaged in activities such as exploring, hunting, or mountain climbing. Base camps are temporary encampments used for storing supplies and preparing for a larger activity. For example, a base camp can be a staging area for mountaineers to prepare for a climb.

Basecamp by 37signals is a project management tool that helps teams collaborate and keep track of projects. It offers features like message boards, to-dos, schedules, file storage, real-time group chat, and automatic check-in questions. Teams can use Basecamp to track assignments, work on documents, plan projects, and chat.

Basecamp was founded in 1999 as 37signals, a web design company, by Jason Fried, Carlos Segura, and Ernest Kim. Jason Fried is the CEO of Basecamp.

If I was starting a business today, the first "thing" that I would buy is a Basecamp account. If I was forced to cut back, if I was in a situation where I had to cancel subscriptions, or cancel services, or cut costs, Basecamp would be THE LAST THING left in my lifeboat. 

I do not get paid to sell, or market, or promote, or evangelize anything in the portfolio. Trust me - I have tried! Just short of begging (I might have begged) the leadership at 37signals does not entertain an outside salesforce. In fact, it was only until very recently did I see them proactively sell and market all things Basecamp. 

"George doing the opposite" is a classic scene from the TV show "Seinfeld". In the episode titled "The Opposite", George Costanza decides to "do the opposite" because his life isn't going the way he wants. For example, when the gang is sitting at the diner, George orders "the opposite" of his usual tuna on toast and orders chicken salad on rye.

The episode is from season 5, episode 22. When George starts doing the opposite of everything he normally does, his luck changes and everything starts going his way. This includes getting a girlfriend, a job with the Yankees, and moving out of his parents' house.

When I think of 37signals / Basecamp I think of the "The Opposite" episode of Seinfeld. There are many examples of the leadership of 37signals doing "the opposite" of what might be considered normal business practice. They put their internal business playbooks on the Internet for all to see. They are very successful, and very profitable. They remind me of a magician - a "close up" magician who does sleight of hand magic. Sleight of hand is a collection of dexterous hand movements used to manipulate objects and deceive (entertain) spectators. It's also known as prestidigitation or legerdemain. A master of prestidigitation or legerdemain can SHOW YOU how the trick is done - but you still cannot do it. Unless, you really WANT to do it. To learn it, to master it. Ah, then you too - can "do the trick." 

When a position opens up at 37signals / Basecamp they get THOUSANDS of resumes. For a single job. I could be wrong, but I think that they have less than one hundred people in total, on staff. And, staff could be living in ANY time zone. Literally. 

"I know it when I see it" is a famous quote from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. In 1964, Stewart was asked to describe his test for obscenity. He responded, "I know it when I see it". 

When we start a new project or begin a new relationship with a customer, a client, a vendor - the first thing we do is we launch a new Basecamp. When something "is real" or is funded, or is proven to be more than a fleeting moment, it gets activated in our Basecamp. From time to time, for some odd reason, a customer, a client, a vendor pushes back on using our Basecamp tool. It does not happen often, but when it does, it makes us (especially me) pause

And when that happens, it is a red flag. Maybe they have a valid excuse, such as "corporate policy" against using external tools. But, unless there is a true valid reason for not using our Basecamp tool, that is usually a show stopper. NOT wanting to use our Basecamp is a signal, a warning, a canary in our coalmine. When you don't love using Basecamp, we are probably not a fit. A cultural misfit. 

"Canary in a coal mine" is an idiom that means someone or something that gives an early warning of danger or failure. The idiom comes from the practice of coal miners bringing canaries into mines as an early warning signal for toxic gases, primarily carbon monoxide. The birds would become sick before the miners, who would then have a chance to escape or put on protective respirators. Dying canaries would signal for the workers to leave the mine immediately.

AND: when someone "loves" using Basecamp - when someone recognizes Basecamp as a "must have" and the first thing they would buy, and the last thing they would cancel - they become our people. Our tribe. If you love using Basecamp, we will probably love working with YOU

What about you? What do you have in your life, in your business world, that is your "must have" ??? What product, what service, what tool do you use (every day) that - as a business owner - that would be the first thing you buy - and the last thing you cancel?

You should know this - and everyone in your company should know this, too. 


Tuesday, July 4, 2023

8 Days a Week

"Eight Days a Week" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles. It was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon based on McCartney's original idea. The song was released in the United Kingdom in December 1964 on the album Beatles for Sale. In the United States, it was first issued as a single in February 1965 before appearing on the North American release Beatles VI. The song was the band's seventh number 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, a run of US chart success achieved in just over a year. The single was also number 1 in Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands.

McCartney credited the title to a chauffeur who once drove him to Lennon's house in Weybridge. In the Beatles Anthology book, he states: "I usually drove myself there, but the chauffeur drove me out that day and I said, 'How've you been?' – 'Oh working hard,' he said, 'working eight days a week.'"

Today is July 4th, 2023. A major holiday here in the USA. Major holiday on a Tuesday. So, yesterday was a "kinda not working day" and today is "definitely not working day" and tomorrow will be a "driving back home / flying back home" day. 

All of this got me to thinking about the Four-Day Workweek concept. 

A four-day workweek is a work flexibility concept where employees work fewer hours (typically 32 to 36 hours per week) across four working days. Employees get a three-day weekend every week.

A four-day workweek can improve employees' health in numerous ways, from reducing anxiety and stress to enabling better sleep and more time for exercise. It can also improve workers' quality of life by giving people more time for personal priorities like spending quality time with family, friends, and pets, and caregiving.

A four-day workweek can also increase productivity. Even though a four-day workweek is still 40 hours worth of work, an employee may feel less overworked than their counterparts who work more of a traditional schedule. At the very least, these employees usually maintain the same productivity level.

However, putting in too much time at work, even for short stints, can lead to stress, burnout, disconnect, scheduling conflicts, and bigger bills.

If you're a salaried employee, a four-day work week would likely mean you get more time off while receiving the same pay. If you're an hourly employee, there could be changes to overtime pay.

Experts say that Wednesday is the best day to take off work for a four-day work week.

Wednesdays are considered the best for reducing stress and minimizing burnout. The pace of life on the weekend versus the work week helps explain why it feels hard to get back in the groove on Monday morning.

However, accountemps discovered that Monday and Tuesday are the two most productive days of the week for employees. Specifically, 39 percent of human resources managers think employees get the most done on Tuesdays, while 24 percent believe productivity peaks on Mondays.

If business needs allow it, a boss might explore letting employees choose which day off they have every week. If too many employees want one day over the other, one might need to switch up schedules to meet business needs and make everyone happy.

At my company, we figure 8 hour days, 5 days a week, 4.3 weeks in a month = 172 hours over a calendar month. So we figure that as long as we are tracking to produce 172 hours per month, we don't care which DAYS of the week are worked. Take off Fridays. Take off Wednesdays. Work a few hours over the weekend, or evenings. Up to you. As long as we are producing 172 hours (on average) people can manage their own calendars. Your mileage may vary. 

Overall, I am a big fan of ROWE - Results Only Work Environments. I don't think that you should get paid for an hour, but paid for the results that you bring to the hour. "Do I need to attend that meeting?" I don't know - do you? Can you do your job if you don't attend the meeting? Or better put - was that meeting even necessary - for anyone? Maybe send a Loom, rather than host a Zoom? Was that another meeting that could have been an email? Ahem. 

And so, I wrote this blog, usually my Sunday Blog, on a Tuesday. A major national holiday. This blog was Born on the 4th of July. 

Happy Birthday, America!