Tuesday, September 22, 2015

End of the College Bubble?

Been thinking about and writing about this for a while, so interesting to see that a few colleges are heavily slashing costs.

Beginning of a trend?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Join me in Estonia in Summer 2016? A trip to the Digital Future

Would you like to take a trip into the future with me next summer?

I'm going to go (with a few friends) to visit Estonia because it is the world's most digitally advanced country.

After becoming an e-Citizen, I've naturally had the chance to talk with others about it.

We've hatched a plan.

Spend a few days there next Summer experiencing it together.

What We Will Do
We're going to set up meetings with leaders in various fields (business, technology, healthcare, infrastructure, government, etc.) to understand how they are operating in the e-future.

Apparently, something like 94% of Estonians pay taxes online (that was 2012) and think about this:

Imagine if your newborn was automatically issued a digital birth certificate and his health insurance started before he even arrives home. Imagine if you could present a registration of residence electronically from your living room. If you could register a new business and a few minutes later you are ready to start trading. If all the data from your healthcare providers were carried in one e-health record. Imagine completing your tax return in five clicks and getting your overpayments digitally transferred into your bank account within 48 hours. In Estonia, these are not cyber dreams; they are reality. source

So, in order to understand the future, I want to experience it.

No commitment necessary right now, of course, but would you be interested in coming with us?

Basic idea:
  • Spend 3-4 days in Estonia
  • Meet with as many people in as many different fields as possible to understand the impact
  • Optional: use your e-citizenship to experience it firsthand 
  • Meet others who are crazy enough to do this.

Ok, who's in?
Sign up here

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Europe's Migrant Crisis: How Else Could It End?

This whole migrant crisis is certainly fascinating on many levels.

I can't help but think that it ends with the crumbling of Europe as we know it.

One scenario:

  1. Germany, Austria, etc. accepts this first wave of 120k ppl (or whatever the number is).
  2. Despite warnings from places like Denmark to not come,  the success of the first wave of migrants sends the message that "ppl get asylum."
  3. This leads to even greater numbers in subsequent waves as the "income inequality" gap between EU and failed African/Arab states is so obvious.
  4. This scenes play out over and over again at the philosophy of Europe (brotherhood, love, etc.) is put to the test as millions of people who legitimately are looking for safety from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya are asking for help.
  5. If Europe accepts them, there comes a tipping point where the costs of absorption, etc. start to overwhelm the generous social welfare benefits.
  6. If they don't accept them (or some countries refuse to participate or pay), the EU as an idea of refuge/tolerance starts to crumble.
Either way, it breaks.

This doesn't even include the other, non-PC strain of Islamification of Europe (which would also change Europe).


Friday, September 04, 2015

Celebrating Estonia...and Digital Transformation

As I shared, I became an e-Citizen of Estonia, the world's most digitally advanced country.

Best part, there are only 1800 e-residents (at the moment) of Estonia. Can you say #EarlyAdopter?

So, of course, I had to celebrate and, literally, fly the flag.

I think next summer I may have to go there.

Who's in?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How to Own Part of a U-Haul Truck

I was very intrigued when I heard about the Uhaul Investors Club.

It gives regular people like you and me a chance to put some money into an actual asset- like a truck and then earn returns up to 8%.

What I like about it is that U-Haul is going even beyond the idea of stock ownership. It feels like Propser or Lending Club, but for hard assets, backed by a brand we all know and trust.

While I only put $200 into a truck (mostly to test), I think it's a pretty interesting concept and a foreshadowing of things to come as "old line" companies seek to identify new ways to build relationships and drive revenue in a world of supercharged connectivity.

You're going to see more and more of these types of new business models or new business experiments, all made possible by mobile+social+connectivity. Fun times.

Here's their official pitch (feel free to use my referral code-full disclosure)

I've found an easy way to invest and wanted to share it with you. U-Haul Investors Club® offers its members the opportunity to invest in actual U-Haul assets and earn rates as high as 8%. I'm enjoying my membership and think you will too.

Joining U-Haul Investors Club® is easy and free! To get started follow this link:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I'm an e-Citizen of Estonia

You know me....if I hear about a cutting-edge type of technology, I'm game for it. :-)

The mere act of exploring it allows me to understand how the world is evolving.

That's why I became an e-Citizen of Estonia.

Yes, you read that right. An e-Citizen of Estonia. 

My ego says that I hope you don't know too many. ;-)

I first heard about it while reading the Jerusalem Post, where someone suggested that Israel should emulate Estonia. Yep, caught my attention as well.

So, I did it.

Now, the "e-citizenship" confers NO political rights or visa rights. You can't vote, get actual citizenship, or work without a permit, but what it does do is allow you to set up a bank account, establish a business, conduct EU transactions and more at a fraction of the time/cost it would take if you were setting it up in any other country.

They aren't stupid. To do much of this, you need to actually go to Estonia to finalize the deal (i.e. you need to show up at the bank to establish an account and you need a non-PO Box address to be the residence for the business), but you don't have to stay there.

Think about this... Estonia gets people to visit, to invest, and to be the hub. You get the ability to jumpstart European business operations at a fraction of the time/cost/hassle.

It's all part of the post-Soviet Union initiative where the country decided that it was going to basically "re-boot" and become the single most advanced digital country in the world.  They call the initiative "e-Estonia."

The more I think about it, the more brilliant it is.  I actually blogged on the "Marketing Lessons from Estonia" from that perspective.

This is a great example of saying "ok, the world has fundamentally changed. Now, how do we take the technology and new needs to uniquely meet them?"

For more on e-Estonia, click here. And sign up here.

BTW..It's not a joke.  The English in all of this is flawless. You fill out an application, pay a fee (free money for them) and have to prove your ID via Passport, etc.  And, no, it's not a tax-evasion thing either.

To see where Estonia is, see here.

I may have to get a flag for my house. And I may have to go visit now.

I probably won't fit in too well on some level as they wrote "Estonians may defend their rights in a rather unusual way-just by sullen silence" and that "Estonians generally try to avoid sentimentality."

Not quite how I roll ;-)

In their literature (which of course I've read), they write about the various ethnic minorities that are part of the culture, except for the Jews and Roma who were "lost to evacuation, deportation, and mass killings."

I'm kind of bringing the Jews back to Estonia.  Or, as my friend said, "they get the Jews without actually having to have Jews there!"

Seriously though, I think it's a very remarkable concept and a glimpse of what the future could look like as nations look for new ways to compete in an e-world.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

When I weigh too much, my lights flicker...and more

The motto of the technology early adopter is "Because I can."

A lot of the time that we do things it's not because it necessarily useful or practical. It's because the only way that we can really understand the new technology is to play with it.

Through the "playing," we learn how it works...and then, believe it or not, our eyes are opened to new possibilities and thus new solutions that were previously not possible.

Or, at least, that's what we tell ourselves to justify the expense!

So, herewith, I share the latest outcomes of my "play" involving the 16 million color possibilities of the Philips Hue technology. (BTW, they call it 'frustration-free' set up and I have to say, in this case, I agree with them.)

What's involved in this solution.

  1. Philips Hue  lights
  2. Amazon Echo
  3. Withings Scale
  4. Nest Thermostat
  5. The website, If THIS then THAT...it's one of the best out there for this type of stuff.

Ok, so here we go.

First off.... let's say your hands are messy and you want to turn your lights on or off.  You connect Echo to Hue and you're off and running as I show here by  turning off lights in my kitchen with my voice.

Now, let's say that you believe that the best way to stay focused on your diet is to have the support of your family. Well, in that case, you set it up so that if you weigh too much, your lights rotate in color.
That way, everyone knows you've missed your goal (or made it, if you prefer that option).


On the other hand, maybe you're in your office and looking for inspiration to change the mood. No worries...you just pull out the app and change the colors. Here's a demo of lights changing color in my office.

What if you and your wife sometimes argue about temperature in the house and the conversation is "what's the temperature in the house?"  Now, everyone knows because the light turns red.

and my personal favorite...

Let's say you don't ever want to miss a text or a call or an email from your wife, but sometimes you put your phone down and miss it.  Now, when you go back into any room, the lights are flashing. You know you should call her back!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New England Adventure....

Took a small jaunt to New England this summer, spending some quality time with the NFO's family (and my kids' cousins).

We hit Sturbridge Village, an 1830s era town replete with re-enactment and workshops.

Needless to say, spent plenty of time in the pool at the various hotels, but also managed to visit Nahant Beach, the Science Museum in Boston, and continuing our effort to visit Presidential birthplaces, the home of JFK. 

We're very fortunate in that our kids are inquisitive, good travelers, and thanks to the iPads, easy to handle in the car.

They're willing to take on almost any attraction with an open mind. I think, of all things, it is that of which I am most proud.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

This guy knows how to live LIFE!

So, we're driving down the New Jersey Turnpike, returning home from our mini-vacation to Boston when the NFO says "look at that car, it says '50 states or bust."

So, I look up from my computer and see a car that has writing all over it...like a "Just Married" thing but much more.

On the back, it says "@chrisstrub" on it. I give the guy driving a thumbs up and say, 'hey, I'm going to tweet him."

So, I do.

This kicks off a twitter back and forth (he's driving, I'm not) and ends up with us meeting at the Clara Barton rest stop where I get a souvenir t-shirt.

That's great, but what's really remarkable is when you meet people with passion who want to make a difference.

Chris fits that category.

He used to work at a social media agency (or he read my bio and just knew what to say) and previously spent some time volunteering with a youth organization. Then, he decides he wants to see America through the eyes of various youth organization.

So, completely self-funded, he takes off for 100 days to all 50 states (he only has 3 or so left as of right now) to make a difference.

He's got tour t-shirts (I now have one though the sunglass stand attendant somehow switched it to Aqua mode). Here's another one from Chris' tweet.

He has PR opps set up along the way (will be in the Wilmington, DE tomorrow and in Baltimore on Friday) and then heading for home in Charleston, SC.

Originally from NYC, I asked him, "so, man, why did you decide that this is something you wanted to do?"

His answer: "It was just something I felt like I had to do before I was 30."

Man...I just love this "leave it all on the field attitude."

And now...he's looking for his next job and you'd better believe I'm going to talk to him about @sprinklr  Anyone with this type of attitude and ability to generate his own awareness and PR is worth some consideration.

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?

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?

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."


  • 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.

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.

Where Applicable
Count von Epstein
Europe and Silver Spring, MD
Senator Epstein
St. Louis
Jer Bear


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.


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.