Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Car Buying Crazy...

As I mentioned, I am in the market for a minivan (well, we are) and it's driving me nuts.

I've narrowed it down to a 2007 Hyundai Entourage SE (you know I love the Hyundais and their customer service) and a 2007 Honda Odyssey EX.

I've spent HOURS on this and I've got to get it done b/c
  1. I am going insane, since I am a "maximizer"
  2. I'm starting my new job on Monday and I don't need the distraction.

Too much agonizing.

It's about a $2100 difference between the two.

Hyundai has a bit more on the feature set and a better warranty (10 year/100k miles) and Honda is, well, Honda.

Resale value doesn't matter to me, as I don't plan on selling the car. Driving it into the ground is more like it.

Ok, enough. Too much information out there. It's affecting my mood and mojo.

Field Trip to Art Gallery

Those are some of my favorite meetings. They take a few minutes, you don't even know the person's name, but it changes your outlook forever.
This past Sunday, we continued our monthly DC excursions (previous here and here), by visiting the National Gallery of Art.
While Tonka liked Renoir's ballerina (she takes ballet), Paco was more of a Manet man.
Of course, the favorite activity, by far, was the moving walkway (we had to do it 3 times) and the waterfall!
But, one woman did comment at how intently the kids were looking at the pictures. Hey, trying to cultivate the right brain.

Cheerleading is Hazardous...

For those of you who enjoy "Schadenfreude"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Right Brain Strikes Again...

You may remember my fascination with developing my right brain (according the the BBC Sex ID test, I'm pretty balanced!!) which was spurred on by reading "A Whole New Mind" and my subsequent 'coffee date' with the author, Dan Pink.

Well, Dan is at it again, with the " The Adventure of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You Will Ever Need"

Go ahead and pre-order with this link. I am about to.

And yes, I got a sneak preview in my chat w/him! I'm excited about it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Conversations through the blog...part 2

For those of you who comment (and register), there's a nifty little feature that lets you get updates by email when someone responds to a post on the same topic.

See full details here.

Keep the comments coming!

Movie Review: Stranger Than Fiction

I'm a big Will Ferrell fan and it was nice to see him in a different type of role for once.

The premise of the movie is a pretty powerful one. The comic-tragic-comic nature of it with some solid actors (Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman) makes it quite enjoyable.

"What if you knew you were going to die imminently?"

How would that change your behavior?

Sure, it's been dealt with a lot, but this was a different take.

3 stars.

At Netflix: Stranger than Fiction

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jer979 Channel...

Just started using and now have a channel which combines blog posts, twitter updates, my work blog, and more.

Let me know

Like you need more :-)

Listening to your readers...

Sure, I blog for myself, but as a marketer in training, the whole blog is an exercise in understanding what motivates people.

On the one hand, I want to engage as many new readers in the blog habit (hey, I have an ego, right?)

On the other, I focus on keeping my best readers/commentators as happy as possible. In response to their feedback, I have adjusted the following widgets:

  1. removed the Facebook friends' status updates (per Tjada) out of respect for friends' privacy
  2. removed the Netflix queue (Gadi) b/c it didn't add any value
  3. kept the "recent comments" at the top of the page (Keren)

Keep the feedback coming.

As if I needed more evidence....

The big lesson of the Albany email was that you can never guess how someone will respond (and the fascinating insight into human psychology)

Today, was talking to Jeremy Lustman. He mentioned how the "Go with the Professor" post didn't interest him [it's ok folks, I like the feedback!].

Meanwhile, read the comments of the post...RW said it was the "best post ever."

Go figure.

Set Ups...Why We Do It

We spend a fair amount of time trying to set up our single friends with each other. Sure, we want big time credit, but when I get a note like this, it just feels so damn good.

We just got off the phone after 3hours. I know!! We had a great conversation and couldn't stop laughing. Apparently we have a lot in common - so well done and thank you.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Gift Revolution...

I just wonder sometimes....why would it be considered so tacky for someone to say,

"hey, I appreciate that you want to give me a gift for a new baby/wedding, etc., but you know what would be best for me considering I have debt and all of these expenses...why not just cash? You don't have to spend time looking for stuff and I can use the money where it would be best served."

Don't Drink and Drive...Israeli style

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Go with the professor...

Second semester of sophomore year, Simmy Schopf tells me to take "French Government in Thought and Practice from 1648-1715"

"Uh, Simmy, I don't care about the French NOW. Why would I care about them then?"

"It's not the course. The professor is the BEST one in the entire school."

Not only did I take it, but I took "French Government in Thought and Practice from 1598-1648" the next semester. I also convinced Dr. Ranum to be my thesis adviser.

Big doesn't matter how sexy the title of the course. The professor makes or breaks it.

In my chat yesterday with Scott Chait, he of the much-needed LinkedIn re-design, he was looking for some career advice. He had listed all of the things that he enjoys doing and said, "I've got to find a place where I can do that."

"Wrong, my friend. It's not the place, you need to find the right boss."

You're a linebacker. You need to find a coach who appreciates your skills as a linebacker, your passion for being a linebacker, and, if you're as good as I think you are, one who will change part of the defense to highlight your skills. Don't go to a place where the coach makes you play wide receiver."

It's not the course, it's the professor.

It's not the job, it's the manager.

Blog as Mistress...

When I first started dating the one who shall remain nameless, I introduced her to my Palm Pilot III as "my girlfriend."

When we got married, my PDA at the time (whatever it was), was promoted to "mistress."

The other night we were chatting about how important (at least we think it is) to ensure that your first line of emotional outlet is with your spouse. When married couples rely on friends or therapists instead of a spouse is when, I think, some get into trouble.

She said to me, "you know sometimes I think the Blog may be your first line of emotional outlet. The blog is your new mistress." She said it with a smile, so she was joking...sort of :-)

Blogger Ego

Was talking to Scott Chait, he of the much-needed LinkedIn re-design, last night and he said,

You know, you've got a big ego. I mean, you put stuff on your blog and you just EXPECT people will want to read about it. That takes EGO

I can play...

Thanks to Pippa's Twitter last night, I was reminded that the World Series was on (shows you where my priorities are).

I flipped it on, late, just to check it out. It was 13-1, but right around then, Tim McCarver was talking about one of the players and he said,

"There are three stages in the development of a player. 'I wonder if I can play. I think I can play. I know I can play."

Felt apropos as I had just come from a meeting with my new team where I had the distinct feeling of "I know I can play," only I didn't know what it was until later that night.

Confidence, not arrogance or cockiness.

And to remember...I know I can play, but that doesn't mean I know everything about how to play or that I can't get better. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Marital Medical Communications...

It may not be this way in every marriage, but in many I've observed, the mother keeps much more up to date with the medical issues of the child than the father.

This morning, I was "asked" to take Paco to the doctor.

In the past, I would debate, saying "he's fine," but now I know that it's not worth it and I should just take him. Besides, even if "it's just a virus," there's always the 1 out of 10 times when it's not and well, let's just say, it's not worth it.

So, I get there for the "sick hours" at 7.50am (they begin at 8) and usually, I am the first one (the time lag between first and 2nd is HUGE), but today, there is another dad there who obviously knows my system.

We share the same story, "our kids are fine" and laugh that knowing husband laugh.

He kindly lets me go first (what a guy!) and we're in to see the doctor by 8.02.

Of course, the MD tells me that it was wise to come now and that we should give Paco some pre-emptive doses from the nebulizer.

I'm more upset about being wrong (again!) than the fact that Paco is sick (yes, I know that's warped).

But, I've learned my lesson and instead of trying to remember everything the doctor says, I just hold up my phone as a dictating machine and have the doctor give all of the instructions right into it.

When I get home, I acknowledge again, how wrong I was (score has increased I suppose) and just play the recording. No recall necessary. Humble pie is the breakfast fare.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Moments That Impact Us...

Was talking about Princess Diana with the one who shall remain nameless.

She said, "I remember exactly where I was when I heard."

I do as the living room of a house in Tokyo.

Growing up, there was only one incident-JFK's assassination- that I remember my parents and their friends all recalling exactly where they were. I'm sure there were more, but it was one that seemed to cut across all experiences.

I am going to venture a guess as to some of the "I remember where I was when...." moments.

  1. 9/11
  2. Challenger 1986 Explosion
  3. Death of Princess Diana
  4. Death of Jerry Garcia (stretch?)

What am I missing? Others?

Monday, October 22, 2007

When Free Isn't...

I am in a sales business and I know that companies need to sell. That's fine.
But I HATE when companies aren't straight up with you.
Got this coupon for an "Efficiency Evaluation" from BGE. I figured, "great, I'd get some measurements so I have some information about how my systems currently work."
Naturally, after that, I would EXPECT them to give me the info of how much it would cost to upgrade.
So, when I called about it, all I got was, "We'll tell you how much it costs to get the newest HVAC systems."
That's it. No 'efficiency evaluation.' Just a hard core sales pitch.
Yeah, way to build the trust there.

Right or Wrong?

So I emailed a number of people about the 'debate' regarding some of my Albany observations to ask them if I was right or wrong?

By far, the most responded to email since I've been doing this in 16 years.

But more than what I learned about the specific example is the fascinating study in human psychology.

Answers (comments, emails, phone, and in-person) ranged from "you are an insensitive brute" to "this is why I HATE people...get over yourself" and everything in between.

It's like I was in a college classroom and the ideas and debate were just flowing.

That, to me, has been the most enriching part of this entire process. Just incredible.

Princess Diana as Blogger

So I just finished watching The Queen (a movie I really enjoyed), and in watching it, the realization came to me that what the British public (and maybe the world) liked/loved about Diana was her willingness to appear as totally and completely human.

In stark contrast to the Monarchy, I saw the evolution from a command and control/monolithic approach (Monarchy/Industrial Age) to a more human/real (Diana/Internet) age, marked by a desire for, and appreciation of, transparency.

In giving the interviews she did and almost yearning for the paparazzi, she was willing to be authentic in her presentation. A non-royal woman living in a royal world.

Maybe a stretch, but like Diana, I call it like I see it.

Solid movie which I thought did a great job of telling as many sides of the story as there were.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More Powerful Than Microsoft...

So, I was on the subway the other day with my dad, who accompanied me on my Spy Museum Field Trip, and our conversation turned to Prosper, which I touted as the democratization of lending and the disintermediation of the banks and credit cards.

I used that as an opportunity to begin a mild sermon on the "democratization of everything" and I pulled out the book Citizen Marketers, which I received after winning a contest on one of my favorite blogs. (You may remember this blog from the Metamucil episode).

What Jackie and Ben (hey, I can be on first name basis w/them after talking Metamucil, right?) do better than anyone is help you understand how the field has truly changed.

At some point, my dad said to me, "but Microsoft can buy ads in newspapers and on TV, they can outspend you."

My answer, "cash doesn't matter. The authentic story does."

Ben and Jackie elp you understand the seismic shift that is occurring in how how companies market and the power of the individual. The major point, "People are the message" and the "1 percenters," those who take the time to create content online and express themselves can write a blog post or upload a video for free and then, through word-of-mouse, get the same amount of exposure (or more) and with GREATER credibility than a Fortune 500 with a billion dollar marketing budget, influence thousands of people.

Budgets don't matter. You can't "control" the message. It's a new era. Companies need to adapt and you can take advantage of it. Join us!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Watching TV...

Interesting conversation today at lunch when somebody made a reference to "My Name Is Earl."

Only thing one else had seen the show.

When I counsel people on presentations, I advise them not to make reference to TV Shows or commercials. You know why? These days, it's not a safe bet that other people have seen it.

The days of "Cheers," "Cosby Show," "Archie Bunker" or whatever (Seinfeld) are gone. That part of common experience just doesn't exist.

So, what are your top 3 TV shows (if you watch at all)?

Mine are
  1. Law and Order Criminal Intent (but only the ones with D'Onofrio-I love his Jedi mind warp)
  2. ER (yes, still)
  3. pretty much anything on the History Channel
  4. do sports count? ;-)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Late Night...Two Planes

You alternate between joy and anger.

You live in the moment and you wish the moment were gone.

Paco and Tonka are in the same room and they think it's the slumber party that never ends.

They are excited, very excited, so they stay up talking to each other and playing.

Finally, they go to sleep.

Next thing you know, it's 3 am and you hear the pitter-patter of little feet coming to your room...for the 7th time!

You're exhausted.

You don't know what to do.

Threaten? Punish? Gently coerce (again).

They go back to their room. They are giggling. It's cute. But it's also 3am!

You know that the morning is a disaster zone of whining and crying waiting to happen.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Keeping In Touch...

There are some people whom I haven't seen for years, but I keep them on the FOJ list and calling them on their birthdays.

Admittedly, it is awkward sometimes, but to me there is an inherent Value of Networking (see also: Networking for Knowledge).

I called Ursula (whom I met 4 years ago and haven't seen since) on her bday and she was admittedly, a bit taken aback, thinking it odd.

Well, 5 months later, she pinged me and asked for a recommendation for a Financial Advisor.

I gave her one. She hired him.

That's why I do it.

The World Is Flat Indeed...

Think the game hasn't changed. My buddy Ben Vollmer needed a logo done for a volunteer organization he heads.

One that would have cost, "easily $200" he says.

Instead, he went to and some guy in Romania does it for $40.

So, two things to think about as you execute your marketing activities

  1. the fear side: what part of YOUR job could be outsourced to Romania? (b/c if you don't do it, someone else will do it for you)
  2. the opportunity side: how can you leverage Romania to help you get your jobs done more quickly and easily and cheaper than before?

Nothing against Romania, of course!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Spy Museum Field Trip...Review

I'll just say that I am upset it took me this long to visit the Spy Museum. Apparently there are more spies in DC than any other city in the world and now, thanks to a highly interactive and informative exhibit, I am better prepared to handle them.

My Spy Museum Field Trip included my dad and aunt and we all agreed that it was worth it.
For a history buff and techno-gadget geek, it was a tremendous confluence of major life interests, but even if you are not both or one of those, I think you will enjoy the experience. Took about 2 hours.
Too often we take the city where we live for granted. Nice to take a moment to stop and smell the local roses (even though my buddy Auren thinks that is a waste of time)

He Certainly Believes in his Product...

More on the Breakup Doctor...

Lest you think I am making the stuff up about the "Breakup Doctor," here's a thank you note for the service I performed :-)

Out of the crib...

If we hadn't paused to reflect on it, it probably would have just passed by.

Last night, Paco slept in a bed for the first time and now, he and Tonka share a room.

He was clearly very excited about it, so it'll be a while for them to adjust, but we continue to move our offspring through life's milestones. Pretty crazy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Value of Networking...

Was talking to Jacob Danyali the other day and, like many others, he said to me, "I get all of these LinkedIn invitations, but tell me why it is valuable."

So, I went through the usual explanations, but then I said, you know what, "I got my new job because of my network and how I keep it warm."

It all began with my contact with Will, which ended with the question of "who else should I talk to about my passion and interests?"

And it all unfolded from there.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do...

Was talking with our good friend, Hannah Seligson, author of "New Girl on the Job" on Rosh Hashana.

Perhaps it was the wine of the new year, but we started brainstorming on a book topic based on a unique skill that I possess...helping women in bad relationships realize they should break up with their boyfriends. (Note, the skill goes the other way, see here)

After a few weeks, it's obvious that I am not going to actually write the book (I've hit The Dip), but I thought it would be fun to post the proposal I sent her. (Of course, she came back with an 11MB 41 page doc of what a 'real' proposal looks like, so there!)

There are at least 4 women I can identify (but won't) who give me credit for giving them "time back in their lives" with a stern talking to and a realization that they should pack their bags and move on.

The ultimate question for the book, however, is how to package the knowledge as a process so others can help their friends.

Anyway, here's the rough idea.


The Breakup Doctor: Book Proposal

Like many women, Rachel was stuck in a relationship that wasn't going anywhere. Twenty-five years old, upwardly mobile, bright, attractive, and funny, she lacked the self-confidence to recognize that Will, her boyfriend of 1 and a half years and also 23 years older than she, was not ever going to commit to a serious, long-term relationship.

Most of Rachel's friends recognize that she should get out, but like many women, they preferred harmony over confrontation. As a result, they eventually just accepted Rachel and Will's relationship.

The Breakup Doctor didn't.

The Breakup Doctor was committed to making Rachel realize and admit to herself something she already knew. She had to break up with Will….COLD TURKEY…and move on. Like pulling a Band-Aid off, it had to be done as quickly as possible.

Today, Rachel says, like many of the other women that he has helped, that the Breakup Doctor "saved me at least 6 months of time by helping me realize that I had to have the confidence to move on."

Now, the Breakup Doctor's technique is available to you.

In this book, he will demonstrate how you can actually be a BETTER friend to your friend-you know, the one caught in a bad relationship.

The Breakup Doctor will show you how to:

1. Use a sensitive, but firm, questioning style to determine if your girlfriend is in a bad relationship

2. Paint "future pictures" so that your girlfriend can realize what everyone else already knows, but not feel pressured to arrive at that point

3. Have the confidence the make the break and to do it WITHOUT LOOKING BACK

Too many women convince themselves that they can "fix" the boyfriend, fear being alone and 'out there' again, and seek to avoid confrontation…only to hurt themselves emotionally and their chances of actually finding "Mr. Right."

Over the years the Breakup Doctor's techniques have helped many women get over these hurdles and get on with their lives.

Now, the reader can as well.

LADIES…when it comes to dating, TIME is your enemy. Don't waste it in the wrong relationship.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Caveat BCC...

In the days of paper memos, a BCC or "Blind Carbon Copy" would most likely not come back to haunt you.

Now, however, you can 'bcc' someone and, if the recipient doesn't realize it, she can 'reply all' and then reveal herself.

That happened to me.

No, I didn't send the email w/the bcc, but someone (who later revealed herself) was the bcc on an email to me.

And, when I found out, I was pretty irritated. Angered. Upset. Betrayed.

It automatically lowered the trust I had for the person who sent the email to me.

Comes back to the topic of anonymity and anonymous comments.

Something to think about before you start bcc'ing others....

Mitzvah Note

A "mitzvah" literally means "a commandment," but to "do a mitzvah" can also mean, colloquially, "do a good thing."

Each day, Calanit takes in a "mitzvah note" to her class for her teacher to read. I don't normally write these for her, but today, I was asked to do so. It read:

Calanit honored her Abba [father] by displaying an increased understanding of the rules and regulation of football. She correctly identified the time remaining in the 3rd quarter and she said "Touchdown!" at the appropriate time."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Movie Review: Failure to Launch

Wish I could remember who told me to watch Failure to Launch, but I can't.

It was cute and there were definitely some funny moments.  A bit predictable, but many of the romantic comedies are, right?

Short enough that it didn't drag and some witty stuff in there. Much of the dialogue, at least during the climax scene, reminded me of another McConaughey flick (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days)

3 stars.

Mug Eggs

one of the bloggers I read shows another talent. Very entertaining and practical. I am going to try it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

How long are the days?

I've quoted my mom quite a few times on the blog (here and here and here and here and here and here, for example).

Today, I finally figured out the equation for just HOW long.

I was able to go for a run in the late PM and when I came back, I took over solo duty for Paco and Tonka for exactly 100 minutes.

I was pretty wiped out, as I had to navigate through dinner, baths, and bedtime (high degree of difficulty), but when I was finished, I said, that felt more like 3 hours (180 minutes) than 100 minutes.

So my new parenting work effort ratio is 1.8:1.

So, if one spouse works an 8 hour day at an office, and the other spouse spends the day with the kids, it's as if the home-staying spouse worked a 14.4 hour day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mentoring Pay It Forward...

I took a new job within Microsoft yesterday. Beginning in Nov. More on that later.

The offer came in around 1pm via email. Of course, as a salesperson by training, I know that you NEVER accept the first offer. Got to see if there is wiggle room.

So instead of heading in w/guns blazing (hey, maybe I am maturing), I called one of my mentors, Bill Forsyth, and asked his sage, calm advice.

Which he gave.

5 times.

Over email, IM, and phone in a harried 6 hours (you know me, I'm like a pitbull.)

I said to him at one point, "wow, you really are ready for game time."

He responded: "You know, this is the 4th time this week that I've been asked to play a mentoring role (not all contract related)."

"You really are valued."

"When you get to my age (he's 50), there are more people below you than above!"

"Well," I said, "I guess I will just have to Pay It Forward."

And you know what? Today, I did.

Two of my mentees called me asking for career advice (Andy Ridinger and Scott Chait) and I was able to provide it. Useful? I don't know :-)  Next task...get them to improve their shoddy LinkedIn profiles.

Spy Museum Field Trip...

Playing hooky on Tuesday. Have free tickets to go to Spy Museum in DC. Who wants in?

Saying Sorry...

Paco and I were wrestling and while he was laughing, he accidentally bit me (really my head slammed into his teeth).

It hurt me more than him, so I said. "Paco, when you hurt someone, even if you didn't mean it, you should say 'I'm sorry.'"


"Ok, are you going to say you are sorry or do I have to make you say you are sorry?"

"Make me say sorry!"

Then, we went after each other, with me saying, "Say you are sorry! Say you are sorry!" but he wouldn't yield.

Tough guy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Networking for Knowledge...

I have a personal CRM strategy (see here). Critical to that approach is clean data (so I can do things like this and this), which is why I like Plaxo, for example.

As a result, I spend a lot of time pruning my Outlook contacts list. It's time consuming, but worth it.

But, today, I realized that, potentially, Facebook (Friend me on Facebook) may become the platform for Personal Relationship Management because of the way I will soon be able to quickly pinpoint a large group of people for information dispersion (say all of my friends who lived in Japan with me and like Rudy Giuliani, for example).

That's extremely powerful for communication, but what about the knowledge aggregation component?

Well, this week, (motivated further by Book Review: Never Eat Alone ) I've been testing that out. As you know, I am a huge fan of LinkedIn (see why here), and I took advantage of a feature called "Answers" where you can put questions out to your network (and their network!) which is exactly what I did for a challenging marketing problem I am facing at work (For background:
Marketing Challenge: Microsoft in Web 2.0?).

Well, not only have I received some GREAT answers, but I've made NEW contacts as well.

And while this was top of mind from me, I received this brilliant video forwarded to me about a service ( that essentially tries to bring Facebook and LinkedIn Answers (they cite Wikipedia) together-mostly focused, at least initially on college students.

It just keeps getting better.

Life Milestone Factoid

Perhaps more common now, but growing up, it was an oddity that my dad got married at age 36 and had kids at age 38.

Well, my brother, Barak has calculated that today is Life Equilibrium Day for my dad.

He was single for 13,206 days.

Today, October 11, 2007, he has been married for 13, 206 days.

Wish him a Mazal Tov or Congratulations!

Book Review: Never Eat Alone

The question I've got about Never Eat Alone is whether someone who is not already committed to the concept of networking as a critical strategy would take the ideas and run with them.

For hardcore networkers, this book is a must read (My LinkedIn Profile and on Facebook).

Not so much because of the vision (you already buy into that), but some of the tactics that can help refine your approach and take you from Good to GREAT (with respect to Collins and Porras).

Author Keith Ferrazzi does have a bit of an ego, but sometimes people confuse confidence with arrogance (don't I know it).

Keith is right on in terms of what networking can do for you (and more importantly, for others) and how it is, arguably, the single most critical element to profitability in the knowledge economy.

If I was at Mach 1 in terms of my commitment to networking as a discipline, Keith has kicked in the afterburners for me and now, with greater clarity, I'm going to Mach 3 (or at least trying to).

Now, if you think you should do networking and want to know where to start, no better place than begin with a Jedi master and take it from there.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Anonymity and What It All Means

So last week's 'debate' regarding some of my Albany observations was heightened by the anonymous posting of comments (I admit, I approved them).

Here's an interesting (and depressing) article on Anonymity and the Net (free reg req'd at Forbes).

HT to Auren Hoffman.

Little Things Make a BIG Difference...

Within 2 days, I've read twice (here and here) about Virgin America and the fact that they have plugs on their planes.

Build something great.

And then make it easy for people to tell (and show) their friends.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Movie Review: Jesus Camp

Whenever I go out to eat sushi, I have to spend a fair amount of time explaining to the wait staff about two things.
  1. no sesame seeds (allergy)
  2. which fish is permitted for me to eat and which isn't

I rarely have a problem, but it usually takes a long time and a series of back and forths.

Back in May, I went out to Seattle and Tjada suggested "I Love Sushi."

When the waitress appeared, I began my usual explanations.

"You're kosher, right? Don't worry. I am Jewish."

And she (Elizabeth) took care of EVERYTHING.

Plus, she was a great conversationalist.

So, last week when I was in town, I said to Tjada, "we have to go back there."

I walked in and found Elizabeth. She remembered me and after convincing her to stay (she was about to get off her shift), she once again helped simplify the ordering process.

During the meal, the conversation turned to politics and Elizabeth (who is pretty liberal) challenged me on my views, namely that radical Islam is the single greatest threat we face as a country.

Well, she didn't really challenged me, but she warned me that "you need to watch out who you are in bed with. The religious right is out to convert all of the Jews."

"That may be true," I answered, "but they aren't going to blow us up."

She recommended the movie Jesus Camp to me, which centers around an Evangelical summer camp that trains young children to spread the Christian message of God.

On the one hand, I was supposed to be frightened. I wasn't clear what the agenda of the producers was, but clearly, I was suppose to think, "wow, these folks are raising zealots and they are going to try and convert me and everyone else. Plus, they don't want a separation of Church and State."

On the other hand, I did admire them. The raw emotion that the kids had in terms of love of God was inspirational. Their value, in terms of "family values," that is, certainly are in the right place. Seeing a 9 year old cry out of love of God is pretty powerful, no matter where you stand on the spectrum.

I guess one realization I had was that, given the 30 million Evangelicals and their firm "Right to Life" beliefs, that my guy, Rudy, will either 1. never make it through the primaries or 2. suffer from the Religious Right staying home in November lest they vote for a Pro-Choice candidate.

I had originally said, "would you rather get 50% of what you want [Rudy] or 0% of what you want [Hilary]" since I think that Rudy is the only one who can pull the moderates, but now I understand that it's not that way. Losing the Pro-Life (anti-Abortion) issue is so complete that it outweighs everything. Pretty powerful.

Elizabeth thought I would see the determination of the Religious Right (and I do) and, in many respects, (MANY), I disagree with them.

I guess the question is: are your enemies enemies your friend?

Definitely worth the watch.

And what's more, you know where to go for sushi in Seattle!

BTW, Elizabeth is now an FOJ :-)

Webcast 2.0

You know that feeling you have on a webcast that not everyone is paying attention?

Or, how some of us (guilty as charged) attend webcasts from home in less than full professional dress (unshaven and t-shirts).

Well, that era is slowly coming to an end.

There's a new product called Microsoft Roundtable which (along with the video capabilities of Microsoft Live Meeting) now brings conference rooms together.

It really adds to the experience.

There's a common fact cited that only 7% of communication is verbal. So what this technology means is (in addition to having to get dressed for webcasts) you can get closer to having the connection you experience with face to face at a fraction of the cost.

Of course, it doesn't replace face-to-face, but it does augment. Another tool in the belt.

Very neat.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Twilight Zone Night...

Ever had one of those nights where you say, "hey, I'll get in bed early and have a good rest" only to then have it totally fall apart on you?

Well, I was in bed and I just COULD NOT sleep. My mind was racing.

Eventually, just gave up and started emailing at 4am.

At 5.30am (of course), Paco wakes up.

By 6.30am, I am a zombie.

Fortunately, I married way above myself and got to sleep to 11 as we had the first of our weddings to attend.


It's like a Murphy's Law/von Clausewitz moment [see No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy].

3 Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah...

Celebratory events seem to come in waves.

When you are 13 (well, some at least) you are on the Bar Mitzvah circuit. Later, it's the wedding circuit. When Nana and Poppy were alive, they talked about the funeral circuit.

It's like the market, you have ups and downs.

We've been in a lull for a while, but the next 6 weeks is a peak.

Today (Mark and Sarah Spira, he a friend since Kindergarten), we had the first of 3 weddings and next month, my 2nd brother is leading us to MinneSOHta for his nuptials. And next month, the Karate Kid himself (I'm Miyagi) will have his Bar Mitzvah.

All good things, may they continue.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Book Review: Juggling Elephants

I stopped by the mailbox in my office on Wednesday and found Juggling Elephants in an envelope. No indication whatsoever from whom it was sent.

I don't know if it was a message that I need to get my act together or just that I might enjoy it, but a parable in the spirit of Who Moved My Cheese?, it was an easy read.

The basic premise. It's impossible to juggle elephants, so don't even try. Your life is like a circus and you are the ringmaster. There are three rings

  1. Self ring
  2. Relationship ring
  3. Professional ring

Much like a ringmaster has to decide which ring to be in at a given time, so do you. And, you should never have a MAJOR act going on in each ring at the same time. What's more, you need to find the right acts to place in each ring so that the WHOLE circus is a success.

While I was reading it, I thought "cute, but hokey," but over the course of the next 2 days, I found myself asking the question of "what ring am I in now?" and "should I be putting this in a ring at all?"

So, I guess it had an impact on me. Any book that makes me think about how I think is worth it.

And a big thanks to whomever put it there!

Technology for Social Accountability...

In sales, we call it a "stack ranking," it's a public scoreboard of how each salesperson is doing vis a vis quota.

In any competition, it's common.

But what about using it to make your house more energy efficient?

Public pressure can motivate people to do a lot of things. Here are some good examples.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Slow Blogging this week...

Have the holiday of Simchat Torah, so won't be blogging until Sunday.

In the meantime, enjoy the raging controversy here.

Future posts
  1. Hatana in Seattle
  2. conversation with the Pakistani cabdriver

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What's wrong with public education?

An interesting perspective on the state of education...

Investment Tracker....

I like to give and get investment advice and now, I have an easy way to do that.

You can view my investment portfolio here.

Over time, I will be adding rationale for each investment and you'll be able to follow them (and hopefully add your own perspective/comments as well!)

Right now, the page is pretty raw/empty (there's also a widget on the right side of the blog as well to see performance). Plus, you'll see trades as I make them.

I have a few invites to send out for the Covestor service, so leave a comment and I'll send them out.

Sometimes people love you...

and sometimes they don't. See the comment on this post

What do you think?

Movie Review: Dreamgirls

I liked the music, loved the acting, and appreciated the historical perspective that Dreamgirls gave me on many of the challenges that blacks faced in breaking into the 'white/mainstream' music audiences.

The vocals were really superb, the outfits over the top (but worth it) and overall a good show.

There were 1 or 2 parts that I thought dragged on, but didn't detract too much, hence the 4 stars (out of 5).

Monday, October 01, 2007

West Coast Observations...

Two things...

  1. Monday Night Football is GREAT. It starts at 5.30pm! Very nice.
  2. Why, when you are paying $300/night for a hotel room, do they feel like the can nickel and dime you for everything ($12 for internet, $16 for parking).
    Come on! (see more on this here). Maybe because they can. I guess you can always charge more to people with money (don't worry, I'm on a biz account)

Book Review: Wikinomics

You've heard of Wikipedia, no doubt.

What Wikinomics proposes to do is explain how the concept of mass (often, voluntary) collaboration (the wiki principle, as it were) among co-workers, peers, producers, consumers, partners, suppliers, etc. is going to change the way that products and ideas are developed for the marketplace.

And, I have to say, they do a pretty good job of building a case that the paradigm for development is shifting.

Well, they build a good case in terms of facts. The flow/storytelling of the book is a bit redundant and dry, but these guys are consultants, not storytellers (of course, they should be, but that's an argument for a different day).

What I did enjoy about this book is how it continued to expand my mind in terms of what the ongoing Net revolution may mean for industry (and you as consumer) going forward.

They have a neat website and a good blog where they, in the spirt of the Wikinomics book, invite you to share in the ongoing collaboration of the book's ideas.

Road Trips in the DVD era...

I'm obviously not one to be anti-technology, but I wondered what we lost on our road trip, by making the portable DVD player available to the kids.

We certainly had less screaming and fighting and whining, definitely a positive, but we also had to consciously tell ourselves to turn off the DVD and help our kids understand that "the journey is the destination."

Plus, I wondered if things like "the license plate game" and other road trip favorites have gone the way of the Dodo bird?

I did explain to them, as we crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge, why waterways were of historic importance from a economic development perspective. Plus, we engaged them in the beauty of upstate NY's nature (the leaves are just beginning to turn). Some of the stuff just requires more work. It's easy to get lazy and go DVD the whole time.

Like everything else, a balance, I suppose.