Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Difficulty in Getting Your Affairs in Order in the Digital Age

I have something I call the "If Jeremy Gets Hit By A Bus" document.

It's essentially a guidebook to the NFO and executors of my will for how to manage our affairs.

I update it once a year or so and give a paper (yes, paper) copy to those who need it for safe keeping.

Over the years, however, I realize just how complicated it is becoming to communicate the various, far flung elements of our financial life.

How about a site that has a username and password and requires 2-factor authentication in the form of a text message or a Google Authenticator random series of numbers?

Now, you don't just need my password, you also need my phone...and you need the password to my phone.

And what if I change the password in the middle of the year?

Now, you need access to my online password manager, with its own username and password and text message.

And what happens if my phone is destroyed in the accident that takes my life prematurely?

Now, you need to be able to access my email accounts...but that requires my phone.

I don't even know how to work around all this. Just doing my best.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Art, Vienna, World War II and fleeing Jewish Women

Maybe the odds are higher than I realize, but the fact that I watched only 2 movies on the flight back from Brazil last week and BOTH of them were about Jewish women who escaped WWII Vienna and had a deep connection to art struck me as an unusual coincidence.

The first was Woman in Gold. Helen Mirren was fantastic and there were some very entertaining lines, such as:

Randol Schoenberg: It's hard to believe Hitler once applied to be an art student here.
Maria Altmann: I wish they'd have accepted him.

Randol Schoenberg: I could've searched for the file on my own.
Maria Altmann: I wasn't going to miss all the fun. This is like a James Bond film, and you're Sean Connery!

But obviously, it covers a very serious subject and it was extremely moving to see justice get done.

The second was The Longest Ride. To be fair, the movie wasn't specifically about a Jewish woman, but it had her playing a very central part.  I had never heard of the movie, but it really moved me as well. I thought Alan Alda did a great job and the parallel love stories was a great angle.

Anyway...it just struck me as odd and, well, I had to document it.

Other movie recommendations are welcome.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Travel in the Age of Google

I just got back from Brazil and I realized how much travel has changed...and a large part of it is Google.

I had a SIM card for my phone, so thanks to Google Maps, I was able to navigate the streets of Sao Paolo (safely, I might add).

I was able to use Google voice to text home to the NFO.

But the app that changed the game for me was Google Translate.  I had a full on conversation with my taxi driver simply by talking to him and having him talk back into the phone.

In a bar, I held my phone up using the camera function and via Translate, it superimposed the translation of the Portuguese sign into English in front of my very eyes.

It was crazy.

I was able to order drinks, communicate with shop workers, and more. No more hand signals or drawings.

Time savings.

Now, while I'm here, I do need to mention another app which I think is incredibly useful, because although Google is great, you need wi-fi or a data connection to make it work. Plus, it doesn't teach you the language, it just helps you survive.

On the other hand, if you want to learn a language AND have it available to you offline (can be VERY valuable) check out Smigin.  It's very slick.




Sunday, July 19, 2015

Parental Milestone

Paco is going to sleep away camp for the first time this week.

I knew I would miss him, but I didn't think I would feel just HOW MUCH I would miss him.  I'm used to being the one going away. He's always a constant at home.

It feels like we are hitting a point on his development towards being fully independent. Well, I know we are, but it brings me a sense of happiness and sadness.

Happiness because of how we've developed him until now. Sadness b/c of the time that is gone, never to be experienced again.

It's so tough, as you all know, in the day to day, to remember (always) to cherish each moment with your kids (and your friends/family) because of how fleeting it is. I guess that's why moments like these are so important and helpful.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

If Your Pediatrician Doesn't Care: What would you do?

Question
If you got a bill from your pediatrician's office after your kids (and you) had a series of horrific patient/customer experiences, would you refuse to pay it?

Is that position justified?

How would you react if the pediatrician's office response was that they basically didn't care?

Background
The NFO and I have been customers of Pediatric Associates in Wheaton, MD for almost 12 years.

We chose the office primarily because of the location/convenience (I know, not ideal), but also, when we started, we felt like we got great attention. More importantly, we felt like our kids got great attention.

Unfortunately, over the years, we have seen that change pretty dramatically.  I will say the nurses are, for the most part, really great. And there are a handful of doctors that seem to genuinely care.

However, they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Still, partially because of convenience and mostly out of habit, we persist in going there.

My question today is: should parents at a Pediatrician's office expect a level of customer service similar to one they might receive elsewhere or when it comes to doctors is it "take it or leave it?"

What Happened Specifically
A few months ago, the NFO took in our son, Paco, who was vomiting continuously every single day with no fever or other apparent symptoms.  We came in a total of 2-3 times that week. Of course, we were charged for each visit.

On the 2nd visit, we were told by Dr. ___ that we should come in  yet again so that we could get to the bottom of the problem and help Paco feel better.  She was reluctant to bring Paco in yet again but she did.

On that visit, a different Doctor entered the room, sat down and asked the NFO a long list of questions and she answered them all.  The Doctor must have asked her three times if Paco had a fever (he didn’t) and repeated other questions.

In her mind, it appeared he wasn’t really listening to the answers.  When she asked him, what could be causing the vomiting and whether he recommended any tests (my brother-in-law, also a pediatrician, had recommended a stool sample be taken), he shrugged his shoulders and said (and we quote) “I dunno.”

The NFO requested a stool sample scrip and the Doctor gave one to her but the visit provided absolutely no added value or relief to Paco.

More importantly, it gave the NFO the distinct impression that the Dr. couldn’t care less and wasn’t willing to put any effort into healing our son.

There have been a few other examples of this type of non-care, the most egregious of one was when one of the doctors prescribed amoxicillin for one of our kids even though her chart clearly indicated she was allergic to it, because she had had an extremely violent reaction previously and it could now be fatal to her.

Despite that, a few months later after a positive strep throat diagnosis, we went to the pharmacy after the Rx had been called in...only to see that it was for amoxicillin.

So....given this recent pattern and the last Doctor's total non-chalance/disinterest/poor bedside manner, I was pretty irritated when I got a bill for Paco's vomiting visits saying that I still owed the $105 (after insurance's part was paid).

I called the billing office up (and wrote a very detailed letter) and said basically, "look, I've been paying bills to you for 12 years...that's a lot of money...given all that has recently transpired, in good conscience, I can't pay this bill. It has been a series of horrific customer/patient experiences and I need to know you care."

Their answer?

Basically, "go to hell, we're sending this to collections."

Questions:

  • What would you do?
  • What can you do?
  • Should we just "suck it up" and pay?
  • File a complaint with the state board of physicians?
  • Am I overreacting?

Obviously, leaving the practice is at the top of the list, but as someone who spends his days working to help companies give great customer experiences, it just rubs me the wrong way and my sense of consumer justice is violated.



Monday, June 29, 2015

Observations and Reflections on #LoveWins

I think we can all agree how remarkably fast the country has moved to accepting same sex marriage.  It feels unprecedented.

In reflecting over the weekend, I had a few comments that I wanted to share. 

Would #Love your input.

How Powerful Social Technologies Are
The change may have been inevitable, however, to me, the speed of the change is a further sign of the global impact that connective technologies (social networks and mobile phones) are having on every aspect of life.

Most of the time, I focus on the impact of businesses, but this is another example along with Arab Spring, Hong Kong protests, and more of what happens when people can directly connect with each other at basically zero cost.

I highly doubt we would have seen this movement grow as far or as wide in a pre-Facebook/Twitter/blog era.

The Marketing of #LoveWins
Simply put..it’s brilliant. I mean, how can you be for “Love Losing?” And who hates rainbows?

The combination of a position that is solidly defensible and a “visual hammer” that resonates with everybody--Those two things, I suspect, were key levers in bringing the “non-committed” center to the side of the Gay Rights movement.

There’s probably a much longer post here, but the hashtag and the imagery were masterful.

It is ironic that the rainbow itself plays an important role in the rebirth of the world following the Biblical Noah story.

Large Brands Joining In
It was fascinating to see the number of large companies that turned their logos to rainbows.  I certainly don’t recall this for any other type of movement (certainly not one that polarized many—i.e. no one is against the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge).

What’s Next for Gay Rights?
I found myself wondering about that.

Obviously, there’s plenty of work to do in terms of employment discrimination, etc., but we’re clearly past the “tipping point” of large scale societal acceptance. 

Do “Pride” parades/weeks become a thing of a past at some point? 

If being gay is as normal as being hetero, do you have need to celebrate the “pride” in otherness or will it fade away as something that is unique?

Just wondering.

Turn the Eye to International
If there is a place to focus the energy and momentum of Gay Rights, I hope it is in the international sphere.  On the same day that the ruling came down from the Supreme Court, there were attacks on 3 continents by radical Islamists. They—and countries such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iran—not only disapprove of homosexuals, they kill them.

Even the most virulent anti-gay marriage person in the US doesn’t advocate for public beheadings.

I hope the considerable energy will be focused on making those societies more open and tolerant.  They need it.

How does this impact religious institutions?
First amendment notwithstanding, I wonder what impact all of this will have on churches, synagogues, and mosques (plus others) where traditionally homosexuality is not consistent with their worldview.

While the government may not do anything to infringe, will people be castigated if they are members of a religious institution that, for example, denies membership to a married gay couple because it is inconsistent with their beliefs?

I certainly wouldn’t want all Catholics or Orthodox Jews to be labeled as bigots.

Is the Supreme Court’s ruling not even debatable? An Ironic Hint of Intolerance
It’s one thing to be pro-Gay Rights/marriage.

It’s another thing to speculate as to whether it is the right of the Supreme Court to make this decision (versus allowing it to be decided by the states).

For example, here’s an interesting video.



Judging from my Facebook/Twitter feed, it seems that everyone I know is 100% in favor of the ruling.

What I can’t tell is if that’s the case or if those who have concerns (either social or legal) are too afraid to state them.

Even leaving aside those with social concerns and just focusing on those with legal/constitutional concerns, I suspect that people don’t want to be labeled as “bigots,” “haters,” or “intolerant” for questioning if the Court overreached.

There is a great irony in being labeled intolerant for even asking the question.

At the far reaches of this, I was particularly appalled by one person in my feed, who said, “if you disagree with this ruling, de-friend me now,” without leaving open any reason for WHY someone might disagree.

And then, from a late 20-something part-time actor who basically said that Chief Justice John Roberts is an idiot when it comes to Constitutional Law.

It struck me as the height of arrogance and hubris.

The last thing we need is for the newly empowered to forget the feeling of oppression and begin to persecute those who disagree with them, when the disagreement stems from a position of intellectual curiosity and debate.

Conclusion
It’s obviously one of those watershed moments in US history which will have ramifications for years to come.

Curious about your reaction.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sprinklr's New CMO: Why I'm More than "OK"

Many of my friends and colleagues saw the announcement that Sprinklr has hired a new CMO.

They have asked me, "are you ok with this?"

I certainly am touched and appreciate the concern, but I wanted to share that not only am I ok with it, I am ecstatic about it.

Here's why.

When I joined Sprinklr in January 2012, the company was valued at just about $20 million. I was employee #30.

I WAS the marketing department.

At the time, Sprinklr was one of 30 contenders (if not more) in the burgeoning social media management space. We had no brand awareness and certainly weren't considered the leader (how could we be? No one knew us).

From that time, until the moment when I handed over the reins to my new boss, we grew to a company with 900 employees, valued at $1.5 billion.

In those 3.5 years, we finished #1 in 7 different analyst reports from places like Forrester and IDC.

We grew from a handful of brands as clients to over 1,000. Now, we have offices in 10 countries. We executed hundreds of campaigns and built out a scalable engine for generating and measuring demand.

The marketing team of one grew to a marketing team of more than 30. Everyone in the industry knows who Sprinklr is and everyone knows we are the Leader.

Now, I certainly did not do it alone.

In fact, I often say that "if people want to confuse causation and correlation, that's fine with me." Still, I'm proud of the work we did and much of what I did.  I also know that I put in a ton of effort.

But I also know that the skill set required to lead a marketing team as a company grows in valuation from $20mm to $1.5bn in 3 years is VERY different from the skill set that is required to lead a marketing team as a company grows in valuation from $1.5bn to $10bn+.

Not better or worse. Just different.

I also know that at the young age of 42, there's a TON about marketing that I still need to learn. A TON.

Most people don't work at companies that grow at 300% per year (for 3 years in a row), so it's not easy to understand the rate of change that Sprinklr has undergone.

What Sprinklr needs now for us to realize our destiny is someone who has the requisite skill set to get us there.  I don't have that...at the moment and there's no shame in admitting that.

That's not to say that I don't have any value that I can meaningfully contribute to the organization. I believe I do.

Even better...I get to learn at the side of someone who has more experience and a different skill set. It's like going to business school, but you're getting paid instead. A much better deal.

And we get to continue to lead Sprinklr to its next level of evolution.

So, you see, that's why I'm not only "OK" with having a new boss, I'm pumped up about it.

Plus, now, when someone says to me, "hey, I think Marketing should do X...", I get to say, "great, go tell Tom."





Friday, June 05, 2015

Definitive Guide to My Self-Proclaimed Titles

As it has come up recently, I wanted to just document what my various titles are and where they are applicable in the world.

Title
Where Applicable
Source
Count von Epstein
Europe and Silver Spring, MD
Senator Epstein
Canada
Godfather
St. Louis
story
Jer Bear
Sprinklr

Disclaimer:

Yes, I know I live in some sort of alternate reality, but hey…why not have some fun, right?

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Why I’m the JerBear…at Sprinklr

Given my penchant for nicknames in my personal life, it probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I’ve rolled this over to my professional life. In fact, on the Sprinklr marketing team, we kind of view it as a rite of passage.
Managers are given 1 month from a new employee’s start date to hand down the nickname, which is then listed in their official email signature.
Yes, you read that correctly.                                                                                    
Now, I’m pretty firm on what constitutes a good nickname (documented here), but the basic idea is that you should not be able to figure out immediately how the person’s nickname is connected to their actual name. Otherwise, it’s not really a nickname, more a term of endearment.
What may surprise you is that we’ve discovered that there is immense value in having a nickname in your email signature. Call it the ROI of the Nickname.
I’ve had some of my team members report that they have received responses from potential customers simply based on the fact that the nickname was a part of their email. It indicated that Sprinklr is a different type of company.
We’ve also had an article published in FORBES about it.
However, when it came time for my nickname…the rules were kind of suspended.
One of my peers started calling me “JerBear,” a moniker which then spread to my team.
They decided that they wanted to call me that because, as they said, “a teddy bear is cute, cuddly, and warm…it’s everything you’re not.”
Clearly, I have some emotional intelligence work to do, but that’s a different blog post.
While it’s not really a nickname, per se, I decided that I would embrace it…so it now sits in my email signature.
And now, I have clients, analysts, board members, reporters…and more…all calling me “JerBear.”
It’s a conversation starter—a chance to talk about our philosophy at Sprinklr…and an ice-breaker.

So, at Sprinklr…they call me “Jer Bear.” 

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

And Why I'm a Count in Europe...and Maryland

Continuing on with the explanation of the multiple hats I try to wear...mainly to just amuse and entertain myself.

Given the history of the Epstein family and how we were cheated out of some money by one Count von Eppstein, I figured that the least I can do to restore the family honor is not just take the family name, but the title as well.

Hence, in Germany (and by extension the rest of Europe), I go by "Count."

And, in my neighborhood when parents ask me what their kids should call me, (e.g. "Jeremy" or "Mr. Epstein"), I tell them "neither. Have them call me 'Count'."

One funny story (at least I think it is funny) occurred a few years ago when I was head of the technology committee for the synagogue.

I got a call about a technical issue and discovered that the financial database had been corrupted. So, I went in to repair it.

Once I had, I needed to verify that all the data was working properly. I didn't think it was appropriate for me to look at other people's financial records, but I figured I could look at my own.

So, I went into my account and changed our titles from Mr. and Mrs. Epstein to Count and Countess von Epstein.

For 3 years, all of the mailings from the synagogue to our home were addressed to 'Count and Countess von Epstein."

Monday, June 01, 2015

And Why I'm A Senator...in Canada

When Tonka was 6 months old, we were invited to a wedding in Toronto.  I dutifully went on line, secured the reservation for the hotel, and didn't think much about it.

I will admit that I did have some fun along the way. When making the reservation, the drop down menu (because it was Canada) didn't have the standard Dr./Mr./Ms. etc. Instead, there were 25 different options or so...you know, British Commonwealth stuff.

Being the marketer that I am, I knew that most of this info sits in a database and is never really accessed, so I figured it didn't matter which title I picked...so I picked "Senator."

Then, I moved on.

A few weeks prior the wedding, the NFO asked me if I had secured a crib for Tonka. I hadn't, so I sent a note to the hotel asking that they make sure we have one in the room.

I returned home one afternoon and the NFO told me that the General Manager of the hotel had called.

"He was so nice," she said.

"Well, you know those Canadians," I replied.

"He said that when we checked in, we should be sure to let him know that we are there and that he would like to come greet us."

"Hmmm...that seems excessive...even for Canadians."

A few minutes later, I came back to the NFO and said, "you know, I wonder if there's any connection between his attitude and the fact that I wrote 'Senator' when I made the reservation?"

Naturally, the NFO was mortified.

When we checked in, I was wearing sandals, shorts, and a Grateful Dead t-shirt...and discovered that our room had been upgraded and we had a fruit plate waiting for us.

That's why, at least in Canada, I go by the title "Senator"...which goes nicely with my honorary Canadian status.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Why can’t non-doctors be “on call?” They can. Here’s how I plan to do it.

I recently was chatting with a family where the husband is a physician.
They were invited to a wedding in another city and the wife and one of the kids were going…but not the husband because he was scheduled to be “on call” that weekend.
I joked that it was just as well because he probably didn’t want to go anyway…and, well, I wasn’t too far off. In fact, I was spot on.
I started musing about how convenient the “on call” excuse is for doctors. The equivalent of the “get out of jail free” card for pretty much any social obligation.
It’s like that Larry David/Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where he uses the “death in the family” excuse…but with a lot less baggage or fall out.
But, wait a second…I work in an industry that is also 24/7, right?
I mean a client could have a social media crisis at pretty much any hour of the day and, if they do, they need us to support them, don’t you?
I’ve had nights doing exactly that until 2am.
So, in essence, many of my teammates at Sprinklr and I are also “on call.”
I don’t work in a 9-5 job. My day doesn’t end at any point. The whole premise of Sprinklr is that customers are connected and empowered and engage with large companies when and where they choose. These companies…and the companies like Sprinklr (oh wait, there aren’t any companies like Sprinklr! ;-)) need to be able to respond anytime and anywhere.

Yep, that’s it. I’m “on call” by default unless I’m specifically not.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fitbit, Smartphones, and an Integrated Work Environment

At Sprinklr, we don’t talk about “work/life balance.” Instead, we talk about “an integrated life.”

More than 60% of the company works from home and our CEO often says, “look we have all of these tools and technologies to make us efficient from various places, let’s use them.”

If you think about it, the very premise of Sprinklr is that the arrival of the connected and empowered customer changes everything…and this includes how we work.

How I Live the Integrated Lifestyle

I was a big runner but suffered a foot injury which prevented me from continuing that activity. Until that point, however, I would often send a note to the CEO (my boss) and my team saying “hey, going out for a run, I’ll be back in an hour.”  This was at 11am or 2pm or whenever.

When you’re an outcome and not an activity focused company, you can do this.

Similarly, I’d say, “I’m taking this call while driving carpool,” or “I’m about to go watch my son’s baseball game” or whatever.

Since my foot injury, I was walking on the treadmill, which was fine. I’d watch Netflix or TED talks. It was good, but not great.

Then, my wife got me a Fitbit and being the competitive guy that I am, I enjoyed tracking my progress against my friends and motivating them (and vice versa) to walk more.


So, I started looking for more opportunities to walk.

I’m always taking the stairs now. I’ll walk from the parking lot to the terminal instead of taking the shuttle.

But the real breakthrough came when I looked at all of the phone calls I was on during the day. 

I have a lot of the 20 minute “catch up/check in” variety where being in front of a computer isn’t required. Maybe some notes, a few emails, etc., but I discovered that I could take all of the calls I had to do like that and compress them in a 2 hour window on most days.

And during that 2 hour window, I walk outside of my house, across the street to a great regional park (full of trees and paths and gardens), with my phone and a headset and just walk and talk.

For TWO HOURS.

What happened was remarkable.

Not only am I more focused on the calls (I’m not distracted by the email or Skype on the computer in front of me) and able to address the issues more efficiently, but my blood is flowing and my brain is more alert.

So, I walk 7 or 8 miles while doing the conference calls that I have to do anyway, during which I normally would be standing or sitting in my office (and possibly eating).

Now, I’m out in nature, I’m getting exercise, I’m more focused on the person on the other end of the call…and I’m totally connected.

I’ve participated in join.me (see our case study) presentations, Skype video calls, looked at Google docs, and more…all while walking.

Obviously, there are some times when I have to be in front of a machine (if I’m giving the presentation or have to do serious creative work), but by aligning my calls into a specified block of time, having my smartphone, and the motivator of the Fitbit, 

I’m able to integrate exercise w/work in an organic way and be more efficient.



A Godfather...in St. Louis

I’m the Godfather…in St. Louis


I was very fortunate during my time in Japan to have some great friends in Rabbi Carnie and Paulie Rose. 

After we all returned to the US, we kept in touch.

Thirteen years ago, after the birth of their 3rd child, they asked if the NFO and I would be the Godparents to their son.

Now, the concept of “Godparents” is not super common about members of the tribe, so I asked what he meant.

He explained that it was important to him that each of his kids would have a non-parent adult whom they knew their parents trusted, but were not their parents and of whom they could ask questions, seek advice, etc.

That did make a lot of sense to me, so I agreed…on one condition.

“What’s that?” Carnie asked.

“The kid has to call me ‘Godfather.’”


And he does.

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.