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"