Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Why We Run…

This guy has captured it about as well as anyone.

Monday, April 07, 2014

As a parent, it’s difficult to ask for more than this…

Nadia has been reading a lot of books about historical figures. They are titled “Who was so-and-so?”

“Who was Elvis Presley?”

“Who was Thomas Jefferson?”

You get the picture.

The other day, she was reading the list of titles and one was: “Who was Michelangelo?”

She turned to me and said, “Is he related to Maya Angelou?”

Friday, April 04, 2014

How to Lead…and Do It Right

Long time blog readers know that I’m a huge Simon Sinek fan.

And he continues to deliver with this presentation. 45 minutes, but worth every one. I’m going to watch it at least 2 more times.

Leaders Eat Last - Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't

HT to Mitch Joel for bringing it to my attention.

Monday, March 31, 2014

How Technology Keeps Relationships Warm Over 13 Years and an Ocean

I just love the power of social and digital to keep relationships alive over time and distance.

When I was in London recently, I saw my former NYC neighbor, Polar Bear club member, and running partner, Robyn Massey for the first time in 13 years.

Without technology, there's NO way we would have stayed in touch.

This is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about technology.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Day I Discovered My Marketing Calling

I write this on a flight back from London, which provides ample opportunity for reflection.

I’ve been thinking about my career path and chosen field and why I got into it.

Certainly, hearing Todd Newfield speak when I lived in Japan was a seminal moment. One that was further catalyzed when he instructed me to read my first marketing book, Peppers and Rodgers’ The One-to-One Future.

Intellectually, I was hooked.

But, there was a moment a few years later when I was working at Snickelways and we had a client called Quantum Cycles (I’m still in touch with one of the clients from that assignment) and they instructed us to come down to Florida to observe Daytona Bike Week. They wanted us to understand the mentality of the customer to whom they were selling.

At one point, we entered a drugstore. Not a chain, kind of a five-and-dime variety.

As I walked the aisle, I found myself behind a man who fit every stereotype there was about a redneck/biker.

Dirty jeans, long, greasy hair, worn boots and a mesh baseball cap.

He also had a jean jacket where the sleeves had been cut off, showing his arms.

On his left and right triceps were tattooed-in kind of a gothic/old English style, the words “Harley” and “Davidson,” respectively.

I was mesmerized and I felt an emotional jolt that lit up the intellectual wood which had been gathering.

I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “I don’t know what it is that motivates someone to tattoo the name of a company on their body, but that’s what I want to figure out.”

So, while the tangible goal might be to have someone so passionate about Sprinklr or Never Stop Marketing or whatever company, product, service I am marketing at the time, that they will tattoo it on their bodies, the real goal is to understand the human condition on such a deep level as to understand the Why.

It’s a long run and I’m not there yet, but that’s just how I seek to make sense of Life.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Social Limo, a Birthday Gift, and a Marketing Lesson

An unexpected text popped up on my phone on my birthday. download_20140310_200910

Jason Solomonson said “My brother Chad says that today is your birthday and that you are in Austin. He thinks we should meet.”

As you know, relationships are important to me.

The way I measure the value of the relationship is how often someone says “there’s someone you should meet.”

Even though Chad and I haven’t seen each other (or even chatted in a while), he did me the favor of making the recommendation to his brother.

I’m ALWAYS open to meeting new people. You NEVER know where good ideas come from.

The challenge in this particular case was: time was limited. I had a slate full of meetings and had to leave earlier than I would have liked for the airport because cabs were in such demand at SXSW that I knew it would be tough.

Then, as if the script had been written, Jason sends a pic of a limousine. (here’s the video)

“FYI… Brightline has @TheSXSWLimo limousine that we are sponsoring in case you have seen it.”

Lightning struck.

“Well, I do have to go to the airport at 4pm. Any chance a birthday present limo ride is in the cards?”

“Sure!!” he wrote.

BINGO. Problem solved.

Now, let me tell you why this is such smart marketing.

You see, at SXSW, cabs are at a premium, so ppl are in need of transportation.

So, the idea of renting a limo available for clients/prospects is a way that Brightline says “we care about you.”

It delivers value without asking anything in return. (Hear him in his own words.)

Naturally, when you are in the limo, you are going engage in conversation with the team and you will hear about the really (and I mean, REALLY) cool stuff that Brightline does.

It creates a talkable moment.

I took a video, pics and am blogging about it. Heck, I got a limo ride that made me feel special.

They relieved a huge concern of mine and made my afternoon stress-free. So, I am going to tell people about that. Why wouldn’t I?

Jason reached out, just wanting to connect because Chad made the recommendation. No agenda.

Then, he shared something that he thought was value.

Then, he delivered value.

Those three moments built Brightline from a company I’d never heard of to a brand that I am talking about as an advocate…in the span of 1 day.

If this is how they treat friends of their brother’s, imagine how they treat their clients!

Wouldn’t you want people thinking that about you?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why You Should Talk to Your Seatmates on a Plane

Had another inspiring talk on an airplane the other day.

It validated my approach.

I learned a ton about the aircraft leasing business from a guy who sells engines for a major manufacture.

So, why do I do it?

  1. Sure, I like the challenge of getting people to like me. It’s part of my WOO StrengthsFinder profile
  2. I like people…I like understanding what makes them tick
  3. But what I really love?
    When I learn about an entirely new field that I could have guessed existed, but never thought about…I feel enriched. And empowered, it provides the fertilizer for the creative part of my brain.

Sure, sometimes people don’t want to talk, no big deal, but if you ask questions and listen, usually you win.

You’ll get ideas that make your business and your life better. I can almost guarantee it.

It will make you a better marketer…and a better person.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Most Special Birthday Ever

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I suppose what fathers want to know is that the lessons you are trying to instill in your kids have been received.

Today is my birthday (not looking for calls/congrats or anything), but as part of that, my kids really went all out in making the celebration special.

They got me gifts and made cards.

But what made this the most special birthday ever is that they not only wrote “Happy Birthday” on the cards, they covered the cards with things that they associate with me.

  1. A guy running—because exercise is important
  2. A computer and the word “Sprinklr” because a work ethic is important. In fact they wrote “Dedicated to Sprinklr”
  3. “Go Big or Go Home”
  4. “Leave it all on the field”
  5. “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy” (a hat tip to Miss Frizzle of Magic School Bus there)
  6. an American flag- for our patriotic pride
  7. an Israeli flag-because of our love for the Jewish people and homeland
  8. and, of course, the flag of Finland (reversed, but who cares) with their Finnish nicknames written on the flag. And which shows their sense of humor
  9. A football, basketball, baseball and soccer ball-probably because Paco likes that
  10. A dreidel with “Go Sprinklr” written on it…not sure of the connection
  11. and on the back, a math equation that said “41 is 1/2 of 82. I hope that doesn’t make you feel bad.”

and all done with beautiful artistry because, as I read on Facebook the other day, the Earth without art would just be “eh”

It was really emotional for me. I felt like some of my lessons were sinking in. That made me proud…and made this the best birthday ever.

Friday, March 07, 2014

When Your Son Throws You Under the Bus…

I picked up Paco from school the other day so he didn’t have to go to ballet with the two girls.

He came home, did some reading, hung out with me in my office and was generally fine.

The NFO had left instructions for dinner, which is normally served around 5.15.

At 5.45, I realized I hadn’t fed him and was headed upstairs to get him set up. I knew that if he was hungry, he would have just told me.

On the way home, I saw a text from the NFO, basically saying “hey, why hasn’t the boy been fed yet?”

I saw Paco and said, ‘hey bud, let me ask you. Did you tell Mom that I hadn’t given you dinner yet?”

“Yes,” he said.

“But were you hungry?” I asked.

“Not really.”

“So, is it that you just enjoy getting me in trouble?”

He smiled.

“Yes.”

Friday, February 28, 2014

What books and movies have you experienced lately?

Always interested in knowing what others have enjoyed.

Here are mine.

Books

  Movies

  • About Time-it was a late night flight back from Denver, but this one had me choked up. I need a lot of reminders about what is truly important in life. It’s an area of weakness, I am afraid.
  • Flight- I’m a big Denzel fan and I found his character to be riveting. A strong movie about what it takes to look hard at ourselves…and what can happen when we don’t.

Working through…

  • Thinking, Fast and Slowby Daniel Kahneman. Deep stuff. Makes you think fast, but reading is slow because there’s so much involved.

What books and movies have you experienced lately?

Always interested in knowing what others have enjoyed.

Here are mine.

Books

  Movies

  • About Time-it was a late night flight back from Denver, but this one had me choked up. I need a lot of reminders about what is truly important in life. It’s an area of weakness, I am afraid.
  • Flight- I’m a big Denzel fan and I found his character to be riveting. A strong movie about what it takes to look hard at ourselves…and what can happen when we don’t.

Working through…

  • Thinking, Fast and Slowby Daniel Kahneman. Deep stuff. Makes you think fast, but reading is slow because there’s so much involved.

Monday, February 10, 2014

End of an Era: No more nanny

In reality, we probably waited 1 year too long in deciding that we didn’t need a nanny for our kids, but that’s beside the point.

The other day was the last day where she worked for us and she had been working for us for about 7 years.

We’d had our moments, as any employer-employee relationship would, and certainly toward the end, when I started to question the value in my mind, the emotions changed, but when she left for the last time, I got nostalgic and even a bit choked up.

Now, I’m not the most sentimental or emotional person around, but when she left, I had two realizations.

The first-the kids are growing up. You know that, of course, but sometimes the reminders are jarring.

Second-and more powerful-was a profound sense of appreciation for her efforts. For many years, she was an instrumental force in caring and nurturing these babies into the children they have become. She had reinforced the NFO and my values and served as our proxy.

When they look back on their lives, they may not remember her, but it’s pretty powerful to think about how important she was to their lives.

I am feeling a true sense of gratitude for her efforts…and, yes, I wrote her a note to tell her so.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The End of College as we know it…

I’ve been talking about this for a while and one of my favorite thinkers, Clay Shirky, has summarized it beautifully.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

“As long as you don’t give it to Hamas”

In one of the more surreal conversations I’ve had recently with a cab driver (here’s how I do it), it ended with my saying, “promise me you won’t give your tip to Hamas.”

Getting into the cab in San Francisco, I began a chat with the driver.  Eventually, I asked him his country of origin, to which he responded, “Palestine.”

“Here we go,” I thought.

You never know exactly how to handle this situation.  You don’t want things to get uncomfortable, but you don’t want to back down either.

Of course, at this point, I hadn’t tipped my hand so I had to wait for the right moment…if at all.

He told me that he was actually born in Jordan and lived his entire life in Amman. 

Then he asks me if I’ve ever been to Jordan and I told him that I had been to Petra. He replies that he might go there in a few weeks when he takes his son to visit his family in Palestine, but they live in Jerusalem.

“Have you ever been there?”

“I have, but I would call it Israel.”

He smiles knowingly.

“So, before we get into a long discussion, let me ask you this: Do you think it is possible to have peace with a two states? One that is Palestinian and one that is Jewish.”

His answer. “Since you put it that way, I would say no.”

“And I would agree with you,” I said.

So, from there, the conversation moved toward mutual understanding and respect.

I understood that the Arabs who left Jaffa, Haifa, etc. will never give up.

And he, I think, understands that Israel isn’t the same as the middle of Montana for Jews.

And we both realize that no solution is possible.

So, I said, “I guess it comes down to….can the Arabs kill the Jews or can the Jews prevent the Arabs from killing them?”

And he basically nodded.

It was really a great conversation and, on the other side of the world, it would have gotten heated (possibly) or not, but when we pulled up to the airport, I said.

“I’ve really enjoyed the conversation and I think you’ve earned a nice tip, but promise me you won’t send it to Hamas.”

“I will give it to my son. And promise me that you won’t send money to buy tanks to shoot Arabs.”

“Well, if the Arabs stopped trying to shoot Israelis, we wouldn’t need tanks.”

He gave me my suitcase and we shook hands and then moved into the hug. (we really need a word for that)

One of those only in America moments, I suppose.

Monday, February 03, 2014

On Nicknames and Call Signs for Naval Aviators

Vinson Embark Shots (28)

Long time readers of my blog will know that I take nicknames very seriously. I consider it a high art form. 

A non-negotiable for me is that you should not be able to figure out what the name of the person is from their nickname.

A perfect example would be “Magic” Johnson. You have NO idea what his name is from his nickname.

For more on that policy and how it has impacted my kids, see here and here respectively.

So, it is easy for me to say that I was in heaven when I learned about the call signs of each of the pilots on the USS Vinson during my recent embark (for more posts, see here and here. Background here).

While none of them were named “Maverick” or “Iceman,” we did run into “Big Tuna” (he’s really tall) and “Beast Mode” (he’s form Seattle). Even the Captain of the ship, named for his red hair, was called “Torch”. Vinson Embark Shots (26)

Commander Lee, who I gathered is a pretty devout Mormon was called “Dud” because of his relatively clean-cut lifestyle (compared to most naval aviators) as in “Dudley Do-Right.”

And all of these call signs are embroidered on their flight suits and, in many cases, written on the planes themselves.

One that made me wonder was a plane for Capt. P.J. Singh whose call sign was “Schwarma.”  I have no idea but I would guess that because of his surname, he is of Indian origin and, consequently, he might be a vegetarian…which would make it a great one.  Either that, or he really likes Schwarma.

Twice I saw two different Capt. Hermans with the call sign “Pee Wee,” which were probably the weakest of the bunch.

No matter what, I was glad to see the high art form of creative names applied with such diligence in the Navy.Vinson Camera Phone images (19)

And one thing, which I’ve long advocated, you can’t give yourself a nickname. It is chosen for you by the group…and you accept it with grace.

Now the question is: Why do you think call signs/nicknames are such an important part of naval aviator culture?

Add a comment below.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Life on the Carrier: Big and Small

Vinson Embark, Day 2 Pics (18)We heard on more than one occasion that the USS Carl Vinson represents “4.5 acres of sovereign US” that can go pretty much anywhere in the world.

I think I heard someone also say that it’s “4.5 acres of ‘second thought,’” meaning if there’s a US carrier in the neighborhood, a foreign government or non-state actor will think twice before doing something.

The ship is immense, holding 5,000 people (or more) when the Air Wing is aboard and hundreds of aircraft.

From the outside, you see just how large it is, the flight deck being the obvious reason.Vinson Embark Shots (19)

And, when you are on the inside, you spend a huge amount of time doing two things. Walking…and climbing. There are combination stairs/ladders (just steep) and I have no idea how many decks (but a lot of them). You are moving in and out of the sections, lifting your legs over the so-called “knee knockers” which I believe are there for watertight/security reasons.

I didn’t work out on the ship, but frankly, I didn’t have to. We just spend so much time walking around, it was a workout in and of itself. Though, if I had, I would have gone to the best workout room I’ve ever seen…the one that was open air wall in front and looking out over the ocean.

It’s Also Really Small

At the same time, though, it is really small. Imagine being in one of these things with 5,000 other people for 6 months. Every day, you are eating in a large mess hall (unless you’re an officer-and yes, there are privileges). It’s not glamorous.

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Add to that, the berths for the enlisted men/women are 3 beds high and anywhere from 20 to 150 people in the same area.

And it’s not like you have a ton of space for your stuff. You get a locker and then your bed lifts up to reveal a few compartments where you keep all of your worldly possessions on the ship.

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These guys do not have it easy.

Throw in one other angle…you’re put into a true melting pot (possibly literally if you are stationed in the Persian Gulf) of people from all walks of life and culture.

Things are bound to get heated. They do, of course, but the Navy has a way of dealing with it and, we’re told, most of the time, they get resolved.

Still, it gives you pause.

Not only are these sailors doing their jobs for 12-14-16 hours a day, but it’s not like they have that much space to call their own. Yet, they do it.

That’s the kind of thing that makes you really appreciate the idea of “doing your duty.”

To get a sense of what it’s like walking through the carrier, here’s one video for you.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Life on the Carrier-“It’s about the sailors”

One of the refrains we heard often from the commanders on the USS Carl Vinson was “it’s about the sailors.”Vinson Embark, Day 2 Pics (25) (here’s the XO-Executive Officer, Capt. Slaughter saying as much in his welcoming remarks)

After 24 hours on the ship, you start to see what they mean.

Here are 19 and 20 year olds with REAL responsibility and REAL accountability.

I asked the CO, Capt. Whalen if the Navy was different today than 30 years ago. You know, with all of the talk about Millenials and lack of responsibility. Also about Facebook/Social Media.

He said that when he first took command, he was against permitting Facebook access on the ship, but was persuaded otherwise and changed his mind. He believes it has been good for morale.

Overall, though, he finds that those who do join the Navy-the overwhelming majority, at least-do respond-to the challenge and own up to the demands and expectations of them.Vinson Photos (7)

I found this to be both true and inspiring.Vinson Photos (3)

I met one Gunner’s Mate, G2 (I think) from East Los Angeles who grew up in a gang-ridden area. He had been kicked out of high school. Friends back in the ‘hood who are “on the wrong path.”

Somehow, through a bit of luck (he had an intervening aunt) and some strength of character, he ends up in the Navy and decides to take control of his life.

Now, he’s in charge of keeping the machine guns on the ship operational, he’s well-spoken, confident, and optimistic about his future.

I found this to be the case over and over and over again.Vinson Embark Shots (24)

Whether it was the Culinary Specialists who served us dinner, the chef who went to the same high school as my dad in San Antonio, TX, the medical personnel…the stories and the sailors made the ship special.

You often hear the Armed Forces promote themselves as a pathway for people to raise their standing in life and, being the marketer I am, you know there’s some truth but that there may be a bit too much polish at times.

Obviously, it’s not always the case and there are people who decide after a while that “they don’t want to be in the Navy,” but I couldn’t help feel pride and excitement about how these young people are doing something about their station in life.Vinson Embark, Day 2 Pics (4)

It makes you think about things like welfare and the meme that is making its way around many circles of “the challenges of managing millenials.”

From what I saw on the Vinson, with some structure, guidance, training, and commanders who genuinely care (more on that later), there is at least some group of people who are taking ownership and pride in their work (notice the guy whose job it is to repaint the seal of the ship).

Are they perfect? Of course not. They’re human, after all.Vinson Camera Phone images (5)

However, the commanders were right:

It’s about the sailors.

And if you’d like to hear Capt. Slaughter for yourself, here’s the video

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Why does it make sense that civilians go on an aircraft carrier overnight?

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One of the questions I get asked (and which I asked) is:

Why does it make sense for the Navy to have a Distinguished Visitor’s program?

If you think about it, the Navy is really concentrated in only a few areas and most of the work that the Navy does is out of sight (literally).

So, the Navy believes that it is worth it for them to invest in relationships with unbiased observers.

I’m not a Naval officer nor am I a congressman with a Navy base in my district. Just a taxpayer (too much, but that’s a different story Winking smile) I don’t really have a dog in the proverbial fight. Vinson Camera Phone images (14)

So, like any organization, it makes sense to attempt to cultivate ambassadors who can effectively and in an unbiased fashion speak about the efforts of the Navy.

Companies do this and the Navy does the same. I’m fine with it.

Plus, when I think about the cost, it’s really not that much. I paid for myself to get to San Diego. We also each paid $50 on board the ship to cover the cost of our food. So, after that, you’re looking at our flights to/from the ship (but my understanding is that these flights go anyway, bringing supplies, mail, etc. so we just took a few seats).

Once on the ship, there are some marginal costs I suppose (the opportunity cost of the sailors we met perhaps, but judging how efficiently they run their jobs, it’s not like we really slowed them down), but theyVinson Embark, Day 2 Pics (30) are pretty marginal.

Now, to be clear, I’m under no obligation to do anything for the Navy. Not even this blog post. They just believe that the program is worth it.

Frankly, it’s difficult for me to see how one can go through the DV program and not be impressed, so it’s not accidental, but they believe that if you have the opportunity to experience life on a US Navy vessel, you will ultimately have a deeper appreciation for their work and that will only pay positive dividends. 

Here they are moving an F18 inside the hangar bay.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Life on an Aircraft Carrier, Part 1

If there was one word to describe my reaction to the privilege of having the experience to spend 24 hours aboard the USS Carl Vinson as part of the Navy Distinguished Visitor program, iIMG_20140122_131138[1]t would be GRATITUDE.

I’m generally very pro-military in my outlook and have, on occasion, met military personnel in various situations and said “Thank you for your service.”

Now, however, I have a much greater sense of appreciation for the sacrifices they make on a daily basis to do their jobs.

It’s not really possible, no matter how many words I use, to do it justice…but that won’t stop me from trying.

Gratitude for…

I overheard a German tourist in NYC a few weeks ago saying to his son that “America was the world’s policeman” with a sense of mild scorn. Well, you know what? I’m grateful that we are.  When you think about 95% of world commerce going over oceans and the communication links between nations that run under them, I’m appreciative that the US Navy is on the front lines keeping it safe.  Not like I trust anyone else to do it better.

 

The mission is critical, of course, but the stories I heard of people being away from loved ones for key life milestones and for months and months at a time, you realize that this isn’t a job that is 9-5 and it’s not even like a job where people ‘travel a lot” for work, it’s all-encompassing and all-consuming. I met one female officer who had given birth 4 months before and now is looking at a possible 10 montIMG_20140122_195119[1]h deployment without seeing her first child.

And this is true all the way from the top (that’s Capt. Kent Whalen (call sign of “Torch”) who briefed us when we first arrived to the C.S. (Culinary Specialist team) that prepared and served a meal in one of the Officers’ Messes. And everyone in between.

 

The promise of the military to give people a leg up.  I met so many young people who had come from challenging environments. A guy from East LA who had been expelled from high school for fighting, bounced around, and could easily have ended up dead, as he said. Instead, with a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, he’s manning part of the ordnance/munitions department.

 

The engineers and scientists who figured out how to keep a moving city of 5,000 people within a self-contained vessel and even give them the chance to not just function and survive, but thrive.  The systems and forethought that have to go into something like Vinson Photos (2)this….honestly, I can’t get my head around it. Maybe not now….maybe not ever.

These men and women work very hard. Long hours (12-14 per day) in fairly cramped conditions. Not only that, but they need to then eat, sleep, play, workout, etc. with all of the same people and while, I was told, tempers do flare, for the most part, it works.

 

When we first boarded, the Public Affairs team who served as our liaison (and reinforced by the Captain) kept reminding us that it is the people who make the ship work.

 

That’s obviously true, but I did enjoy seeing (and granted it was my little porthole onto their lives) the high degree of professionalism and respect that was evident for everyone’s contribution to the cause.

 

There’s MUCH more to come, but the first post had to be about that.

So, now I can say with a full and authentic heart (or even more so than in the past) to our military personnel…THANK YOU for your service.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

my upcoming visit to an aircraft carrier

I get to spend 24 hours on an aircraft carrier next week.

For more, see this post.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Marketing Suicide Prevention

Honored that my passion for marketing is going to have an opportunity to really make a difference (hopefully).

I’ll be joining Commander Captain Aaron Werbel (USN) in presenting at the annual conference of the American Association of Suicidology on April 9, 2014.

See page 16, workshop 11 to see how it all comes together.

Kudos to Commander  Captain Werbel for seeing the opportunity and connecting the dots.

Further proof that marketing is relevant in many, many ways.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Story of God Bless America

Thanks to my mom for sending this great story over.

Frank Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best singer of her time, and said that when he and a million other guys first heard her sing "God Bless America" on the radio, they all pretended to have dust in their eyes as they wiped away a tear or two.

Here are the facts... 

The link at the bottom will take you to a video showing the very first public singing of "GOD BLESS AMERICA".  But before you watch it, you should also know the story behind the first public showing of the song. 

The time was 1940. America was still in a terrible economic depression. Hitler was taking over Europe and Americans were afraid we'd have to go to war. It was a time of hardship and worry for most Americans.

This was the era just before TV, when radio shows were HUGE, and American families sat around their radios in the evenings, listening to their favorite entertainers, and no entertainer of that era was bigger than Kate Smith.

Kate was also large; plus size, as we now say, and the popular phrase still used today is in deference to her, "It ain't over till the fat lady sings". Kate Smith might not have made it big in the age of TV, but with her voice coming over the radio, she was the biggest star of her time. 

Kate was also patriotic.    It hurt her to see Americans so depressed and afraid of what the next day would bring. She had hope for America, and faith in her fellow Americans. She wanted to do something to cheer them up, so she went to the famous American song-writer, Irving Berlin (who also wrote "White Christmas") and asked him to write a song that would make Americans feel good again about their country.  When she described what she was looking for, he said he had just the song for her.

He went to his files and found a song that he had written, but never published, 22 years before - way back in 1917. He gave it to her and she worked on it with her studio orchestra.  She and Irving Berlin were not sure how the song would be received by the public, but both agreed they would not take any profits from God Bless America. Any profits would go to the Boy Scouts of America. Over the years, the Boy Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties from this song.

This video starts out with Kate Smith coming into the radio studio with the orchestra and an audience. She introduces the new song for the very first time, and starts singing. After the first couple verses, with her voice in the background still singing, scenes are shown from the 1940 movie, "You're In The Army Now."  At the 4:20 mark of the video you see a young actor in the movie, sitting in an office, reading a paper; it's Ronald Reagan.

To this day, God Bless America stirs our patriotic feelings and pride in our country.  Back in 1940, when Kate Smith went looking for a song to raise the spirits of her fellow Americans, I doubt whether she realized just how successful the results would be for her fellow Americans during those years of hardship and worry..... and for many generations of Americans to follow.  Now that you know the story of the song, I hope you'll enjoy it and treasure it even more.

Many people don't know there's a lead in to the song since it usually starts with "God Bless America....." So here's the entire song as originally sung.

Humbled by my son…

On Sunday, Paco and I decided that we would go on an outing together.

I would run. He would bike.

We had ambitious of a long one. I was hoping for 9 miles.

Early on, we ran into some issues. The backpack he chose wasn’t so comfortable, so I had to fix that.

Still, it kept interfering.

Then, he elected to ride across the ford in the creek, which made his shoes slippery.

His feet were wet and at one point, he slid off the bike.

He started to cry and said his leg was really hurting. We were nearly 3 miles from home, the NFO was out, and we didn’t really have anyone to call to come pick us up.  From a close examination, I didn’t see any external signs of injury.

At this point, I was torn. I really felt the need for a long run. Yes, call me selfish and I was concerned that he wasn’t being “tough enough.”

I asked if we could go farther and he said yes.

Soon thereafter, I noticed another problem. His bike tires weren’t properly inflated, making the ride all the more difficult for him.

After a while, he said he couldn’t bike anymore.

Though I did  my best to hide it, I am sure he picked up on my frustration at having the “vision” of the outing ruined. Not really the outing, more like my exercise routine.

He offered to run next to me, but I knew that wouldn’t work, so I stopped.

We started walking in silence. I was wheeling the bike.

Both of us were just trying to deal with our emotions.

It was a really nice day (albeit a bit windy), but we were stewing in our own feelings.

At one point, he turns to me and says, “Abba [Hebrew for dad], I am sorry.”

My heart melted and I felt smaller than my 8 year old.

I immediately turned to him and said, “Paco, you don’t need to apologize for anything. I am the one who should be saying I am sorry. You’re more important than any run and I didn’t make you feel that way.”

From there on, we had a great time, talking about things that we never would have had he been biking and I been running. We both were able to look on the proverbial bright side.

I think every Father wants his Son to grow up to be better than he is.

I am glad that it my boy is on that path.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Is Solar Worth It? The Not So Conclusive 2 Year Report

So, I’m about 2 years in with my solar panels and the burning question is: Was it worth it?

The answer: It depends on how you look at it.image

I sent the raw data to my friend, Pesy Hollander, who did the analysis for me.

FINANCIAL
From a pure FINANCIAL perspective, it seems like I am slightly behind (by about $100). Pesy had discovered a $210 delta, but I did get a check from Solar City last year to make up for underperformance (and, for all I know, I’ll get one this year, so perhaps I should wait, but well, I’m here now).

Also, a part of that is because the panels had a small technical issue upfront and it could be a function of the number of sunny days and/or an increase in consumption.

ENVIRONMENTAL
From a GREEN perspective, I am ahead. Way ahead. It’s a great feeling on a sunny day to know that I am doing a small, bit part for the environment. I am willing to pay $25 a year for that feeling. Plus, the offset of mature trees in CO2 helps. clip_image002

TECHNOLOGY
From a TECHNOLOGY perspective, I am also ahead. I like having them on the roof, seeing the inverter, monitoring the output via the wi-fi/mobile apps and marveling at how it all comes together. I’ll also paid $25/year for that experience (heck, I do that all the time).

I’m ok with this, for now. I suspect I’m willing to pay the $25/year “green” tax well into the future (if I have to.). Think about it…Prius owners do it anyway, right?

As for the tech tax, I would hope that goes away.

I invested with the Long Game in mind, so I’m fine where we are.

If you are interested, you should use my referral code (and get a saving yourself). That would help my costs as well Winking smile

Let me know via the comments if you have any quetsions.