Thursday, March 15, 2018

2 Days in Seoul, South Korea

The last time I was in Seoul was 1997. I knew the city would be different when I got here (I was speaking at a conference), but even I was impressed by how much has changed.

Granted, when I was here last time I was a student and it was the middle of December and freezing. Still, a few things jumped out.

The infrastructure is first-rate. The airport (Olympics related) is immaculate and efficient. I was out of the plane and in the taxi in about 20 minutes, including immigration.

The subway works really well. I love the glass doors (I've seen this in other places) that keep people away from tracks and tell you where the train is going to open.

But I also love how they number each stop according to the line. So, for example, subway line #2 has 201, 202, 203, etc.  So, instead of having to remember a station name, you just say, "go to 214" or "403". Makes moving around easy.

Oh...and my favorite part? There are multiple wi-fi routers on every single car in the subway and the Internet connectivity is blazing fast. 

Speaking of subways, one thing that stood out were the emergency smoke masks that were available. A reminder that North Korea is about 25 miles away.

My sense is that Koreans, kind of like Israelis, have just gotten use to living under the pressure of being in a constant state of war.  Also, like Israelis, military service is mandatory for men (about 18-20 months, if I am not mistaken).

So, while it's a pressure point, it doesn't seem to be (nor should it be) a constant source of pressure.

I will say that it was a strange sensation for me to watch CNN in the hotel with so much news about the Korean peninsula...and to be on the peninsula while it was all happening.

In some respects, Seoul reminds me of Tokyo...but actually cleaner. The one thing that got to me, however, was that there was a strong, pervasive smell of fish in many parts of the city. Maybe I'm just over sensitive to it.

The roads were really impressive and the high-rises were gleaming.

All of that wealth, however, hasn't seem to be evenly distributed as there is clearly a pretty big divide between rich and poor.

I walked through the Namdeamun market and you still see a fair number of people who have much more of a day to day struggle. Also, not a huge number, but more homelessness than I would have expected. 

My basis of comparison for Korea is probably Japan (right or wrong) since I lived there for 2 years and have been back a few times.

I have only two regrets from the trip. The first is that I wasn't able to achieve K-pop superstardom (though I did hit Gangnam-with style, I hope).

The second is that I did not make it to PyongYang to talk with Kim Jong Un and try to defuse things before Trump gets here.

All in all, however, I think the South Koreans have a lot of which to be proud. 60 years ago, it was a rural, poor country and now they are an economic powerhouse with a highly educated society.

They've taken much of modern, Western civilization, but done it in their own unique way and it's exciting to see.

Friday, March 09, 2018

A $500 Cab Ride to New York

The other night, I was supposed to go to New York on an 8:57 pm train, but when I got to the train station, it was a 2 hour delay.

I was supposed to keynote a large industry event at 8am the next morning with 150+ and, with this delay, I would not be getting into my hotel and to sleep until 3am. Not an option.

Plus, the Amtrak station at BWI (where I leave from) was going to close at 9:45pm so I had no place to even sit without going to the airport.

After discounting the idea of driving myself to NYC (too tired and too many things to do) and exploring the possibility of flying from BWI to Newark or La Guardia (no flights), I ended up negotiating with Nidal.

As a side note, Nidal is Palestinian and we had a great side conversation about the Middle East. At the end, he agreed with my point that it's the fault of the Arabs that the Israelis are so strong and the primary problems with Palestinian leadership are because of their corrupt leadership.

Ok, back to the story....bottom line, by 9:05 pm, I was in the back of cab heading up to NYC on I-95. We stopped once for bathroom/gas and I was at my hotel by 12:30am.

Fare plus tip $500. Graciously, my host picked up the tab. Yay!

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Adapting to Life with Parkinson's

My first cousin describes her incredible attitude and living with Parkinson's in this video.  Watch it at 1.5 speed and it will take you 6 minutes.

You will be inspired.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Watching the Women's Hockey Gold Medal Game in a room of Canadians

I am in Alberta now and I had the opportunity to watch the thrilling US-Canada women's gold medal game in the 2018 Olympics in a room that was 95% Canadian.

I took a video because it was fascinating to watch and listen to their reactions as good and bad things happened over the course of the shootout.

Here you go.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A New Understanding of Bi-Polar Disorder

I will admit that, for many years, I had zero understanding of what bi-polar disorder is.

If I am being completely honest here, I will say that, when I was younger, I basically viewed it as a personality flaw/weakness.

Over the years, I have become more sensitized to it, but I didn't really understand it until my coffee companion from this morning, Charles Blackwell, explained it to me as succinctly as anyone ever has.

It's the difference between feeling down and worthless and KNOWING you are worthless.

The difference between feeling invincible and KNOWING you are invincible.

Read his fantastic post here.

It will, hopefully, shed some light on it for you. I know it did for me and I am grateful to Charles for his openness.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Answering my Door ....from Switzerland

Last week I was in Crypto Valley as part of the Crypto Explorers trip that I co-lead.

After the event one night, around 10pm Zurich time, I get a notification from the Ring doorbell app on my Mac laptop. I open it up and see a door-to-door salesman standing in front of my Maryland.

I proceed to have an entire conversation with him, tell him we're not interested, and see him walk away.

It was fantastic.

I generally like the Ring. I have an issue with the app on my Android, but I think that's my phone, not them.  

I don't have it wired, it's battery charged and, if you don't have motion sensor on, it can last for a few weeks. Just make sure not to lose the special screwdriver. I did and I had to replace it. I got it for free from Ring's customer service (which is EXCELLENT, btw).

This story, however, is why I bought it, so I'm happy.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Get Paid to Read Emails

I have already earned $110.36 just answering unsolicited emails that would otherwise be spam.

This is the future of email marketing. You get paid to read emails.

Join here.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 65: Ambien

I'm in Switzerland now for our next Crypto Explorers event.  Trans-Atlantic fights can be brutal if you don't get any sleep.

However, a few years ago, I discovered Ambien...knocks me out and I can basically function.

Today, grateful for this aid in making international travel just a bit easier.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 64: scented candles

I have them in my home office and burn them almost every day. Creates a great environment for thinking and working.

Today, I am grateful for scented candles.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 63: vegan cheese

Of all the things I gave up when I went vegan, I think cheese was the most difficult. That's why I am grateful for vegan cheese. It tastes just like the real thing.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Gratitude Journal - Day 62: remote controls

Who remembers the days of having to actually get up and turn the channel physically on a television?

Wow...think about how the world has changed for you because of the existence of the remote control.

I can relax even more now because of it.

So grateful for the remote control

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 61: My kids

Sadly, the NFO has been down with the flu the last few days. Needless to say, I've been traveling and have some more upcoming.

What has been really great to witness is how the kids, aka "Team Finland" have rallied and stepped up to do more and support the cause of keeping things going.

I am grateful to them for having the presence of mind to up their game when our "Supreme Commander" (aka 'Mom/Ima' aka 'NFO') needs their help.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 60: Not taking the easy way

My driver this morning was a guy named Michael from Barbados.  He is a true "American Dream" success story. Came here with nothing and now he and his wife make $150k+ a year and are content with their lives.

I asked him about his success.

He said, "I think life is about taking on the hard challenges, learning from them, and getting back up again."

I am grateful for people like Michael who provide me inspiration to do the difficult things.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 59- My Parents

We had a family conference call last night. Just the 7 of us. Some matters to discuss and it was great how we were able to do the call with sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and purpose.

It was a testament to how my parents raised us, with an ability to not shy away from the tough conversations. 

So, today, I am grateful for that.

There's a lot of work that goes into being a parent, as I've discovered, and this isn't the time/place to do a full analysis, but I did appreciate the environment and culture of openness and honesty and trust that we have with each other (most of the time ;-)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 58: CodeAcademy

One of my goals this year is to improve my understanding of computer programming. I know some of the basics, but given what I think about the direction of technology, I'm personally more interested in it than ever before.

If you ask Team Finland, they will tell you that the one thing I ask them to do every day, it is practice coding.

But, in the 'practice what you preach vein," I have decided to do the same.

Today, I am grateful for CodeAcademy. It's a fantastic, free (with paid upgrade option) way to teach yourself programming skills.

No matter what field you are in, it's going to be valuable.

I spend about 10-15 minutes per day on it and it's already made an impact.

Grateful that this resource exists and that the world of programming is available to so many, if they choose to pursue it.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 57: Global Entry

I don't know who came up with it, but I am very grateful for the Global Entry process when you return to the US from abroad.  There's a fee and you have to get fingerprinted/retina scanned (so when the Russians hack that database, you are really up a creek).

Until then, however, it allows you to fly through immigration in under 1 minute.

After a long, international flight, that's a welcome relief to not stand in any lines.

Yay for government.

Maybe tomorrow I'll do Pre-check and Clear?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 56- Blogging and Ev Williams

I've been blogging for 18 years now and I still feel so fortunate that I can publish my thoughts to share with others on a daily basis with basically zero friction.

Plus, I've got a repository now of over 3,000 blog posts that serve as my open diary (for the most part).

I also like the fact that it's "pull" not "push" like email is. So, it's there and if you read it, great. If you don't, that's ok as well.

For me, though, it's been a valuable enhancer for life and I'm grateful to Ev Williams for inventing Blogger so log ago.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 55: the mountains

I spent 2 days in Boulder, Colorado this week and found myself in awe of the beautiful mountains to the west of the town.

They are inspiring. Moments like that, where I see nature in its beauty, make me realize how small I am in the world. At the same time, I feel grateful for the opportunity to experience them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 54: Scott Doniger

As luck would have it, one of my best friends from Sprinklr moved to Boulder, where I am right now.  I had the chance to have dinner w/him and his wife.  As luck would have it, it was also his birthday that same day.

Scott was more than a friend. He was a partner, coach, and mentor.

Today, I am grateful for Scott Doniger.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 53: Flight Attendants

For the most part, I have a pretty good flying experience. Maybe it's because my expectations are low!

I talk to a lot of the flight attendants on the planes when I am traveling and, almost universally, I enjoy it.  It's not an easy job that they have.

Today, I am grateful for them.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 52: Portable Wi-Fi hotspots

Sitting on a plane bound for Denver, I am grateful for the fact that I can turn my phone into a mobile hot spot.

It helps me be optimally efficient at this moment.  That's key to my overall commitment to getting the highest ROI possible on my time away from home.

So, to whomever invented wi-fi and his/her partner who made it possible to hot-spot enable my phone, I thank you for your contribution to my objective of a happy home life.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Gratitude Journal- Day 51- America

When I was 14, my dad took me to communist eastern Europe for 2 weeks. After time in the Soviet Union, Poland, and East Germany, we arrived in West Berlin.

I was 14 years old and I remember thinking that it was the first time in my entire life that I was grateful for having been born in the USA.

I was thinking of this in light of the President's "shit-hole" comments last night.  It's sad.

Not so much because I think the immigration debate is a legitimate one. I think it's ok for a country to decide who/how people should be allowed to come.

The reason I was upset was because it denied the very essence of what makes America great (and he seems to miss that).

It is great because so many people would literally risk their lives for the freedoms and opportunities we have here.

Yes, many countries are a basket case of mismanagement and corruption. It's really sad and there's work to be done, but by lopping the people in with the countries in such a negative way, it showed me that he doesn't really "get" the essence of America that I felt sitting 50 feet from the Berlin Wall in 1987.

That's unfortunate, of course, but ironically, his comment helped re-kindle my gratitude for what is beautiful about the American experiment.