Friday, May 22, 2015

Solo Mothering and the Role of Men

I'm sure it has been going on for a while in larger society, but I'm only noticing it now because it is happening among my age cohort.

In the past few months, I've had 3 female friends in their late 30s/early 40s who elected to have children on their own.

All of them wanted to become moms, had spent time unsuccessfully looking for the so-called "Mr. Right" (as the NFO knows full well, he doesn't exist), were successful professional women, and ultimately chose to embark upon the adventure solo.

Again, this is probably nothing new for many people who follow this issue closely, but it made me think about the long-term role (or even need) for men in the child-rearing process.

I'd like to think there's some value, but it's obvious that for women it's now a question of "if" in terms of whether she wants a man to be involved.

I wonder if the age at which women choose this route will get increasingly younger or are there other factors involved?

(For example, you would need to be established financially as an individual which might take longer).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why I call 1800 people per year to say Happy Birthday

Honored that my friend, Marty Isaac, who now runs HooplaHa offered to do this story.

So, if I've ever called you on your birthday, now you know why.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Is Runway Model my next career?

Today,  Sprinklr hosted an event at ASOS, the leading online fashion retailer in the UK. After the event, I had a chance to strut my stuff on the catwalk.

Next career?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why Father's Day Reinforces Gender Inequality

Stemming from a conversation I had with Jacob Licht...

While it is certainly nice that we have a culture that celebrates the contributions of Fathers (witness the recent spate of Super Bowl ads about dads), I think the movement seeking to address gender inequality issues should take aim at Father's Day.

The goal should either be the elimination or, more likely, the relegation of the day to a more minor status.

The problem with Father's Day is that it is put on the same level as Mother's Day. This implies that Mothers and Fathers should be equally revered and that the contribution of men and women are equal.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The contribution of women far exceeds that of men.

As Jacob pointed out (roughly paraphrasing):

The relative Return on Investment of the effort exerted by the woman or the man to earn the relevant title is complete disproportionate.

For a mother, while the end result is worth it, the process is full of sweat, pain, blood, and a ton of labor, literally.

For a father, however, it is a few minutes of work that he would gladly do again.

It's really not equal.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Ode to Mother-in-Law

Being that tomorrow is Mother's Day, I figured I'd give a shout out to my mother-in-law who, I think, is the best mother-in-law one could ask for.

I've met guys who have the stereotypical relationship with their mothers-in-law, e.g. they are criticized and second-guessed.

I don't have that at all. In fact, the opposite.

My MIL basically leaves me alone most of the time.

Then, when she comes to visit, she takes care of my kids-thereby relieving me of responsibility and saving me time. What's more, she brings me highly personalized gifts (usually books) that are always on target.

I definitely scored well in that department.

See what I mean? ;-)

Happy Mother's Day to my MIL.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

And my #1 favorite thing about Japan....

The toilets. Hands down.

Heated seats...and more. I think I need to get one.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Parenting Lesson Learned

Paco was going on a field trip that involved a 2 hour bus trip each way.  He asked me if he could take my iPad.

I was initially very reluctant, for two reasons.

  1. I felt like it was unnecessary given that he was going to be with his friends for the entire time and that, well, in my day, we didn't have iPads to "keep us from getting bored."
  2. I was assuming all of the risk for the damages and I wanted him to figure out a way to address my concerns.
After some aggressive lobbying by a key advocate (aka the NFO) on his behalf, we arrived at an agreement and he was able to take it.

Around 4pm, I get an iMessage from Paco

And then he proceeded to give me a play-by-play account of what was going on.

In fact, 2 minutes later, the NFO calls me and says 'I just heard that one of the buses broke down, but I don't know if Paco is on it." [Note: she doesn't actually call him that.]

"He is," I responded. 

"How do you know that?"

And I explained that I was getting real-time updates from my reporter on the scene, almost like a Twitter feed, that was beating the information being sent out by email via the school.

A classic disintermediation due to disruptive technology.

And, of course, I had to tell him how right I was for my forethought.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Who is "Gusto?"

As you may know, I have a propensity for nicknames. A lot of them.  Even now for Paco's friends in the 4th grade.

They are Chuckdog, Vito, Frankie, Tony, Hunter, and Stefan. And believe me...those are a long way from those kids' actual names ;-)

Anyway...the other day, I saw Paco in the youth groups at our synagogue through the window.  He was actively participating.

As I reported back to the NFO at lunchtime, with Paco present, "yes, he was in groups. He was praying with gusto."

To which Paco (aka Jokinen) said: "who's Gusto?"

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Skills, Network, Challenges Career Path

When I was 18 and opted to take German in college, one of the reasons I decided to do so because I looked at the state of the world economy and thought, “well, if Germany is the largest economy in Europe, it probably can’t hurt to learn that language.”

And, after college when the opportunity came up to go to Japan, I thought, “well, Japan is the 2nd largest economy in the world [it was at the time], that could be useful one day.”

What I didn’t realize is that it’s more than the language, it’s the culture and history of the countries that help you really work within those environments.

In my Never Stop Marketing days, I was able to travel to both Germany and Japan to provide services to clients.

And, now, as Sprinklr expands globally, those same skill investments I made over 20 years ago are paying off.

In February, I was in Germany as part of the SAP partnership we have and in April, I visited Japan to help the Sprinklr Japan team get off the ground.

(And, heck, in the middle, I went to Israel-keeping the Hebrew fresh.)

It’s been rewarding and exciting to see how this part of my life/career has played out to date.

Same goes for the combined 3 years I spent living in those 2 countries. Not only did it help me learn the languages and cultures of those particular places, but it served to expand and enrich my ability to function in any foreign environment.

In a globalized world, that’s obviously a good thing.

When people ask me about “career path,” I cast it aside. I don’t think a “career path” exists. How could I have predicted the rise of Facebook, Twitter, etc. 15 years ago?

What I tell them is this:
·      Focus on building your skills. Develop new ones because you never know when they will come in handy.

·      Focus on building your network.  People whom I met 20 years ago (and stayed in touch with for genuine, non-selfish reasons [that is the key] end up being great resources for you in unexpected ways.

·      Take on big challenges: No one likes to feel like they failed or might fail, but forcing yourself to do new things that may fail is a skill in and of itself.  It’s better to force the change on yourself than have the change forced upon you. It’s Darwinian. Need to be able to adapt.

Anyway, I’m writing this on the plane back from Japan and I suppose I’m a bit reflective right now.

And inspired.

Now, it’s time to think about “what are the skills I am going to need 20 years down the road to stay relevant?”

I don’t know for sure, of course, but I do know that it involves looking at the larger trends and following the skills, network, challenge approach.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Still more things I love about Japan...

How you have the name of the counter agent at ANA airlines. So personal.

And the famous Hachiko statue...
See the movie. Even the one with Richard Gere is good.

Reconnecting with Old Friends...

Thanks to the power of social/digital media, we're all blessed with the possibility of reconnecting with friends from another time and era.

While it could be sometimes construed as awkward (not for me, but so I'm told), I find that seeing people in person after 5, 10, or 15 years (which is why I have so much fun at reunions) gives you a chance to reflect on who you were, where you are, and have someone help remind you of things that influenced your path.

In this case, I had a chance to see Petras (with whom I worked at Fact Communications in Tokyo) and whom I hadn't seen in 17 years, Jim Weisser (who I saw 5 years ago, but knew from 17 years ago) and Brent (who was at Int'l University of Japan) with me.

I would encourage you...even if it's only for 20 minutes/coffee, next time you are traveling somewhere, make the effort and reconnect with a friend from a past life.

With Brent Mori...

With Jim "Bud" Weisser...

With Petras Petroskevicius 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

More Things I Love About Japan

Koi Ponds

Best Vending Machines On the Planet

Got to love those organized, disciplined lines at train stations.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Things I Love About Japan

I'll tell you...some things that the Japanese confound the heck out of me. But, at the same time, I don't think there's a country that is more customer-focused in the world. That's just a part of it.  Here are a few things that I just love about the way things are done here...and some that I could do without.

More to come.

They have chargers for your phone in taxis.

 The order of the numbers in the elevators is pretty straightforward.

People line up for the subways (there are lines on the platform) and wait patiently for everyone to exit.

On the other hand, the subways are pretty packed and there's not a lot of personal space.

And anyone who knows the country, knows that the names of products are somewhat unique...but entertaining nonetheless.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

How a Car Mechanic Can Earn Trust

We've all been there (well, maybe most of us have). Your car is broken down in an unfamiliar locale and you have to confront the fact that you are at a mega-disadvantage when it comes to your relative level of knowledge vis a vis the mechanics.

It is my hope/belief that the arrival of technologies such as social, mobile, and user-generated content sites will change that.

Part of that is making sure that people know you are holding them accountable.  Here's how I did it with Elite Automotive in Potomac, MD. Their willingness to go on video showed me their trustworthiness and then, of course, I validated it with my trusted mechanic (unless they are in cahoots with each other :)

Seriously, these guys were great and I highly recommend them...even when your car isn't broken.

Enjoy the videos

And afterwards

Thursday, April 16, 2015

LOVE Starbucks...How my son got to mop the floor, literally

How can you not love the amazing commitment to customer satisfaction by Nick at the Cabin John Starbucks?

My car's radiator blew out so we ended up being stuck for about 3 hours. I got a coffee, got him a hot chocolate and we sat down for the long wait. I gave him a copy of the paper, but he quickly got restless, saying "I need to DO something."

Right about that time, Nick comes over and says, "I hope you guys don't mind, but I am going to mop now."

So I said, "hey, my son needs something to do, he'll do the mopping for you."

And Nick said, "ok!"

So, he let me do some mopping.

Boy happy. Father relieved.

And SBUX delivers yet another great customer experience!

Don't worry, Starbucks, Nick eventually took over and did the job perfectly!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

For the college sports fans out there...

I happened to catch part of SportsCenter last night when I saw that Providence beat Boston U in the NCAA "Frozen Four" to win the national title.

Now, normally, I wouldn't care, but seeing as I had also seen SportsCenter a few nights ago (now you get my viewing habits) when they had a guest appearance by Jack Eichel who was the player of the year.

So, it led me to thinking...

  • Boston U had the player of the year in hockey and they lost in the championship game
  • Wisconsin had the player of the year in college basketball and they lost in the championship game
  • Oregon had the Heisman winner (same thing) and they lost in the championship game
So, I was curious if this tri-fecta had every occurred before and, if so, when?

ESPN...what say you?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

How Kids Humble You

While painful at that moment, one of the things I love about having kids is how they can so quickly and gently humble you and give you a sense of perspective.

Paco, to his credit, took on a huge challenge by attempting to read a long, extremely dense biography of Winston Churchill. It was certainly above his vocabulary level (to be fair, many of the words were above the NFO's and my vocabulary level!).  He was supposed to read it over Passover break, but with every page requiring a visit to a dictionary (or Google), it became obvious that we weren't going to finish the 300+ pages.

I really enjoyed reading the book with him, as did the NFO. It was a mini-adventure and we actually learned a lot about Churchill. However, at some point, we had to admit that we weren't going to finish before the deadline, so we had to step back.

Paco apologized to me.

He felt bad that he had "wasted time" by reading a book with the NFO and me and "taking you away from your work."

I felt bad.  The fact that my son thought that ANY time I spent with him in the pursuit of knowledge, education, experience, and just being together was a waste and that work was more important than he, indicated to me that I was/am sending the wrong message.

I tried to explain to him that my entire reason for being is to be his dad (well, and his sisters). Certainly in the biological sense and that, while I love my work and I do work a lot, it is with his ultimate needs in mind.

Sure, we lose focus on this and money doesn't replace time.  But, it's not even time, it's about focus and communicating that we care.

In general, I think (hope) I do a pretty good job of communicating this to my kids, but every now and then, I really appreciate the strong reminder.

He's a great kid (all of my kids are) and I am blessed that they are able to tell me when I have messed up.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Luna Bar's brilliant corporate sponsorship

Every man knows that the only rule of pregnancy is: "when your wife has a craving, you do what you can to address it."

About 12 years ago, when my wife (aka the "NFO") was pregnant with our first child, she had only one craving...Luna Bars.

One night, around 8.30pm, she tells me "I really want a Luna bar."

"Where do you get them?"

"Well, you can usually go to store A, but they close at 8, so you need to go to store B..which is about 5 miles away."

Ugh, I thought, "you can make it," I said.  "You can get it tomorrow."

I didn't go.

Yeah, I know. Not a good way to score many points.

So, they next day, I decided to try and make it for her.

Keep in mind that this is pre-social media, but the following day, I decided to call the company.

I make my way to a Marketing person and say, "so, you guys market yourself as a nutrition bar for women, right?"

"Yes, we do," he answered.

"Well, you'll be glad to know that my wife's sole craving during her pregnancy is for Luna bars."

He chuckled.

"So, hey, I was wondering...would you guys like to be the official corporate sponsor of my wife's pregnancy?"

"Uh, we don't really have a program for that," the guy answered.

"Tell you what," I said. "How about you send a few Luna bars, a t-shirt or something, and I'll make you the official corporate sponsor."

"Sure, we can do that."

A few days later, I get a box with some Luna Bars, a few coupons, and whatever else. Great, I know.

But, here's the rub.

My wife is fiercely BRAND LOYAL to Luna Bars now. By my estimation, we have spent nearly $3000 on Luna bars (if not more) in the time since the they became corporate sponsors of my wife's pregnancy.

And my wife is a mega-brand evangelist...telling everyone how much she loves the product and creating additonal sales for them that way.

Bottom line: I think that the ROI on this particular sponsorship was very high for them ;-)

Now, I have to go back to them for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Israel 2015 Observations

I wasn't originally planning on going to Israel with the kids this year. The NFO was taking them for our nephew's Bar Mitzvah, but a few factors-most notably that I didn't want to miss being there with them—led me to make a last minute decision to attend.


I'm glad I did.


This was my 10th or 11th visit to Israel and every time I go, I learn something new about the country.


While taking the kids to places like the Western Wall, Yad v'Shem (the Holocaust Memorial Museum), Mt. Herzl (the military cemetery), the Mahane Yehuda market, or just walking down Ben Yehuda (the main drag in Jerusalem) is always exciting and meaningful, the point of these trips is to instill a sense of connectiveness-to build the connective tissue, if you will, between my kids and the Land of Israel.


Our goal is to have them understand that this place is not just another place. It's a special place for them and a part of their identity. As parents, you always wonder if you are making the impact you hope to make.


We do our best and I suppose time will tell.


But what strikes me in Israel in 2015 is much of what strikes me every time. The "bizarro world" that is sometimes the country and the Middle East.


This week is an election which could have huge ramifications for the future of the country and the region.


  • How big is the Iranian threat?
  • Will a united Arab list and a potentially larger than average Arab turnout be a determining factor in the election? (I find this particularly ironic given the charges of "apartheid state" that are leveled at the country.
  • The never-ending discussion about how to be both a Jewish country and a democracy.
  • How to maintain the ongoing economic miracle/"start-up" nation/technology hub that has resulted in a country where GDP per capita is going to soon exceed that of France. Yes, France.
  • And a whole lot more.


It's not a perfect country. Never will be, but it's a country based on an ideal and a belief…that the Jews have a right to their own country and that, when all is said and done, Jews need a country where the primary raison d'etre is the defense of people's right to live as Jews.


I hope my kids walked away with that.


And I just wish all of the haters could take a step back and walk through the streets of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv or wherever and see how the country functions. How people are just trying to live their lives and do better for their families.


They would be blown away to see that…and they'd be really blown away to see Arabs walking amongst the Jews in these same places with no fear at all, no reason to be afraid, accepted for who they are.


Then they might ask themselves, "would a Jew be able to walk around as a Jew in many Arab countries with no fear whatsoever?" They can't do it in Sweden or Paris, after all…which proves the very point.


Israel, despite being nearly 68 years old is not guaranteed. It's a daily struggle and every moment is infused with a sense of urgency, a sense of life-or-death consequences that few others places or people in the world have. There's an unspoken tension that just exists. There are shelters, there were (and will be, unfortunately) air raid sirens. There are soldiers carrying guns, security checkpoints at malls, metal detectors, and profiling.


Those aren't disappearing anytime soon, I'm sad to say. Maybe never.


There's the irony that being outnumbered nearly 150 to 1 is the root cause of the country's competitive advantage.


But it's all this, the living in a pressure cooker that creates not just innovation, but also a heighted joie de vivre that can't be understood by an outsider. Nor can it be understood fully by someone who is unfamiliar with Jewish history.


Hopefully these trips will help our kids see this and understand their place in it.


Road Warrior Street Cred

In reality, it's not something about which to be super proud. Proving your road warrior toughness is, well, maybe a sign of misplaced priorities.

Yet, with not so many accomplishments to tout, I submit for your consideration the current itinerary in which I am currently engaged.

Sunday evening, March 8th

  • train from DC to NY Penn Station, arrive at 11pm


Monday evening, March 9th

  • train from NYC back to DC, arriving home at 10:30pm


Tuesday morning, March 10th

  • Leave home at 7am for a 9am flight from DCA to Toronto with entire family.
  • Sit in Toronto airport for 6 hours. Fortunately, there's wi-fi and kids have iPads.
  • Depart Toronto at 5pm to Israel.


Wednesday, March 11th

  • Arrive in Israel at 9am. Get car and drive to Jerusalem. Stay in Israel for 4 full days.


Sat. night, March 14th

  • Leave Israel at 10:55pm, flying to Newark.


Sunday morning, March 15th

  • Arrive in Newark at 4.30am

  • The baggage door on the plane won't open, so we all wait by the carousel for 90 minutes (we can't go through customs w/o our bags). A huge line amasses. Fortunately, I have Global Entry and get my own line.
  • Go to United Club, where I take a shower and drink the 2nd of what will be multiple coffees.
  • Take shuttle from C gates to A gates for 8:55am flight to Austin.
  • Get on the plane, only to find out that there's a maintenance issue and we have to deplane.
  • Then, we have to change gates, so we take the shuttle BACK to C gates for a new plane.
  • That plane, eventually, leaves Newark at 11.55 (3 hours late).
  • Arrive in Austin at 3pm local time (roughly and hopefully as I'm writing this while on the plane)
  • Oh, by the way, I have brought 2 HUGE bags back with me to try and make things easier for NFO and kids when they fly back from Israel w/o me. (Needless to say, one of them-the one I needed-didn't make it to Austin in time)
  • Attend Sprinklr SXSW party

Monday, March 15

  • Leave Austin around noon and fly (via Houston) back to Reagan National where I will wait for about 4 hours and meet up with family returning from Israel via Toronto. They will have a 4-5 hour layover and get in around 11pm.
  • Take family home and hopefully help get them settled.


Tuesday, March 16

  • Home. Yay.


Wednesday, March 17

  • 8am flight from Dulles to Seattle. Arrive in Seattle at 11am local time. Give presentation at 4.15pm local time.


Thursday, March 18

  • 8am flight BACK from Seattle to DC. Arrive home around 5pm.


So, when all is said and done, we are looking at:

  • 8 days
  • 8 airports
  • 4 time zones (where a night was spent)
  • 3 countries
  • 2 continents
  • 2 train stations


And let's not talk about next week!



Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Bizzaro World of Israeli Elections

It strikes me as very interesting that Israel is accused of being an "apartheid  state" and yet, the elections next week could be determined the turnout of the Arab vote and the positions of the Arab parties.

Even more so, the leader of the Arab parties says they are fundamentally against the existence of the State in which they are members of Knesset (parliament).

Can you imagine a party in the US running for seats in Congress and saying "we don't believe in the Constitution or the bill of Rights. We're just running in order to get more power and have ppl pay attention to our unique demands."

Just bizarre.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

More on the End of College as we know it...

Another nail in the coffin.

Now more evidence...this time from the NY Times.  Thanks to Tom Siegman for this one.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Book: This will make you smarter

Recently, I've been making my way through a compilation book of scientists who were challenged to answer the question of "what 1 scientific idea should people know that would make them better off?"

The book is called:   This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking (Edge Question Series).

The essays are about 2-3 pages long and, for the most part, really good.

Two that stood out for me are:  The Pessimistic Meta-Induction from the History of Science which essentially says that in each era, people think they are at the end of modernity, having figured it all out, and that everyone beforehand were ignorant. Yet, 85% of what we think of as "truth/fact" will be proven to be false at some point. Stay humble

And  Self-Serving Bias  which essentially says that we aren't nearly as open-minded as we though (which we knew), but reminds us that we are always looking for things to confirm what we think is the right thing.

Just wanted to pass these along.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The iPad taking up Cap Space

To understand this post, you need both a technical knowledge and sports knowledge.

Yesterday, I was looking at Paco's iPad (well, it's mine, but I let him use it) and I noticed that he didn't have any of his pictures on it.

"What happened to all your pictures?"

"I deleted them all," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"I needed the cap space," he replied.

"You mean the 'storage space,'" I asked.

"Yes, that's what I meant."

Gotta love that the 9 year old is talking about 'cap space.' He's ready to be a GM.